By Adelola Amihere
As the Federal Government edges towards completing stations along the Lagos- Ibadan rail line and the Ebute Metta-Apapa Seaport rail tracks, the Minister of Transportation, Hon Chibuike Amaechi has given a nod for train services to begin on the Lagos to Ibadan rail line.
This is just as he has expressed optimism that the project will completed by January 2021.
Disclosing this at resumption of routine inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan Rail project after an almost six months break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister in company of his Information and Culture counterpart, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and over forty journalists explained that services on the route could begin without necessarily waiting for the completion of all the stations along the axis.
“I have directed for them to start skeletal services. We may not need the stations to begin. The MD of NRC will answer when this can start because it has to do with operations”, he said.
Responding to questions on when the project will be 100 percent completed and commissioned, Amaechi explained that he has directed for more workers to return to site to expedite work.
“For those who have been following us, you know that for every station, we had 150 to 200 workers, now you have 10 to 20 workers.
“What we have agreed with them now is that they should increase the number of workers and manage Covid-19 very well meaning that they should come with their face masks face shields and come to work. Because it appears like, I am not a doctor or scientist that Covid-19 has come to stay.
“Government has to run and we have to deliver our promises to the people because that’s why we were elected and we don’t have time. If we just seat down in our houses and wait for Covid to end, it may end 2023, let’s hope that by January, this project will be ready”.
Speaking further, the Minister appealed to the National Assembly to approve the $5.3 billion loan request from China to enable the government to execute the Ibadan-Kano Standard Gauge rail line.
Giving specific details for the commencement of operations, the Managing Director, NRC, Engr Fidet Okhiria disclosed that the services will start off by the middle of September.
“We will start by the middle of September from Yaba to Ibadan while the other construction finishing will continue and hopefully by January, it will be full blown.
“We already have 24 coaches and a set of Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) made up of eight coaches and two locomotives and with that we intend to have sixteen round trips a day”.