There are very strong indications that, unless the Chinese Civil Engineering & Construction Corporation (CCECC) takes the marching order issued by Rotimi Amaechi, Nigeria’s minister of transportation to speed up construction work on the train stations located on the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail corridor seriously and implement same in the coming weeks,, the planned commencement of passenger train services may face some some hurdles.
During the weekend’s project inspection tour by Amaechi and Lai Mohammed, minister of information, beginning from thw Ebute Metta mega station to the yet-to-be-started strategic train station inside the Apapa port, other major and minor stations along the 156.5 kilometer Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail corridor that are at various stages of completion are located at Ebute Metta Junction (EBJ), Agege, Agbado, Kajola, Papalanto, Abeokuta, Olodo, Omi-Adio and Ibadan.
In total, there are 10 trains; four in Lagos, three in Ogun and four in Oyo states respectively. Out of this numbers, there are three mega stations; one at EBJ in Lagos, one in Kajola in Ogun state which houses the proposed wagons and coaches assembly plant and another one near Ibadan, where the planned dry port will be located.
With only rubbles of demolished structures seen at the strategic proposed train station inside Apapa port complex, completed physical structures for the three major stations and other seven smaller stations in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states are without fittings yet. There will also installation of electrical, signallying and other equipments when these stations are completed.
The minister of Transport Rotimi Ameachi said the commissioning of the Lagos Ibadan Railway will likely take place in January 2021. While expressing dissatisfaction on the level of work done in some of the stations, Amaechi gave Xia Lijun; the project Coordinator CCECC, 21 days timeline to ensure completion of the stations. Meanwhile the contractors blamed the slow progress on Covid-19 pandemic.
“You need to speed up the conclusion of these stations. Covid has come to stay, and government has to run. We have to deliver our promises to the people because that’s why we are elected we can’t wait for Covid to end because we don’t know when it will end. Let’s be hopefully that by January this project will be ready”. The transportation minister insisted.
Fielding questions from newsmen, Fidet Okhiria, managing director of Nigeria Railway Cooperation (NRC), disclosed that operations will resume at Yaba to Ibadan by mid September, while construction progresses in other stations. According to him, there will be 16 passenger round trips daily with the 24 new coaches and a set of Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) with 8 coaches attached to each set already on ground.