Worried by the slow pace of work on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project, the Federal Government has handed down a two-week ultimatum to the contractors – China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), within which to complete the job.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, gave the marching orders in Abeokuta, the Pain State capital on Thursday, during an inspection of the multi-billiion naira project.
Amaechi expressed dissatisfaction over the section between Iju, Lagos and Agbado in Abeokuta.
This was even as the minister explained that it was his passion to get the project done, necessitated the ultimatum.
According to the Transport Minister, “I want the project delivered. Though, we cannot say that CCECC isn’t trying but, for commercial purposes, they have to complete the section so that, perssengers can board train to Abeokuta.”
He noted thus: “Getting to Abeokuta you will see that there’s an improvement but the problem they have now is the civil work between Agbado and Iju which is critical to me because I don’t think passengers will go to Agbado to join the train.
“I believe that the closer we are to Lagos the better for the rail and that is why I had to tell them to tell me what they will do about this before the next two weeks, although there’s a huge improvement up to this point. I want them to speed up the construction from Iju to Agbado.”
Meanwhile, the minister was not comfortable with the fact that very critical equipment had yet to be brought into the country the facilitate the project.
According to him, the excuse the firm gave, was that the equipment were not off-the-shelf items that could be ferried in easily.
In his submission, part of the solution to the congestion around Lagos sea-port is an efficient rail line. “You can argue that the narrow gauge is there, but it is not efficient. But the moment you fix this then those goods will be transferred to the rail and then the logjam will disappear”.
“The moment we do the section from Iju to the sea port, then most of those goods, especially the ones gong to Ibadan will be on the rail lines.”
Asked if the government was under pressure to get the project completed, Amaechi replied: “Of course, and it is also because of the speed for it takes you about 30 minutes by rail from Lagos to Ibadan as against over one hour by road. And this is subsidised.”
The minister further disclosed that, “Though, the focus now is the completion of the project but, we are expecting the deployment of about thirty passenger coaches, three hundred wagons and then, two sets of coaches from Agbor, Delta State for test running of this ongoing project.