With the track laying and ongoing construction of station buildings on the $1.53bn standard gauge rail project handled by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) from Iju in Lagos to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital now in advanced state of completion, there is excitement among the traveling public using the new standard gauge rail tracks being handled by the Chinese firm.
While on a train ride from Iju in Lagos to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, interactions between BusinessDay reporter and some of the the passengers on the air-conditioned train service last weekend commended the federal government and the CCECC for the seriousness and commitment shown on the projectfrom its inception on March 7, 2017, despite a plethora of barriers and other complexities posed by properties and infrastructures on the raight od way (Row) while the project lasted.
During the train ride on the 157 kilometer Lagos-Ibadan corridor, massive works were still ongoing on some of the stations at different location where the structures are to be located. For the Apapa seaport which is an extenstion of the project, BusinessDay findings reveal that, excavation works and minimal work inside the port have already started.
Speaking on the project, Xia Lijun, CCECC’s project manager of the standard gauge rail project commended the host communities for their tolerance and co-operation and added that, the understanding shown by them will in no small measure open up windows of economic and social opportunities.
As at the time of filing this report, excavation works and minimal work inside the port on the Lagos end have already started inside the port with excavation works of about 200 meters completed and tracks laid.
Lijun said that CCECC is working to complete the work as soon as possible to meet the deadline set by the federal government with the track laying and stations that has advanced appreciably. Many Nigerians he said have been making use of the train on the completed section of the corridor from Iju, in Lagos and Moniya in Ibadan.
Rotimi Amaechi, Nigeria’s transport minister has on many of his inspection visits harped on the need to finish the Lagos-Ibadan rail project by April or May this year to pave way for the commencement of the second segment of the project.
Well completed, there are positive signals on how the railway will unlock the economic potential of the region as travel times by rail will be substantially quicker than the existing road mode thus resulting in greater economic productivity. Faster journey times will no doubt influence travel behaviour which will have an effect on the type of developments that may occur along the corridor.
The Lagos-Ibadan rail project being the first phase of the 2,733 km Lagos-Kano standard gauge rail line follows a similar alignment to the existing Lagos-Kano narrow gauge line running through Abeokuta.
Trains will be able to reach a speed of 150 kilometers per hour on the line and will have nine passenger station stops comprising Ebute Metta, Agege within the Lagos state axis to Agbado, Kajola, Papalanto, Abeokuta, Olodo in Ogun state and terminating at Omi-Adio and Ibadan in Oyo state.
Meanwhile, CCECC sources has hinted on the deployment of two Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) of locomotives with two eight coaches along the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail track.
Spokesman for CCECC Nigeria, Akinwoye Abdularauf had told transport reporters during a trail train ride recently that the good news, for now, is that two DMUs for the standard gauge rail has arrived into the country and will soon be deployed upon ministerial approval.
‘’By the grace of God, if we are lucky, we will use those two new DMUs in our next ministerial inspection. Their deployment will be subject to the minister’s directive, whether we use both here, on the Lagos-Ibadan rail or we deploy one for the Abuja-Kaduna rail services”. He concluded.