With the completion of the 157 kilometres Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge tracks, attention has shifted to the stations as the contractor battles with completion deadline, writes ADEYINKA ADERIBIGBE
For the China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC), delivering the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge is only but days away.
With the tracks almost 80 percent completed (remaining wholly the siding into the Apapa port town), full attention is now on the completion of the train stations.
On the Lagos-Ibadan railway line are 10 stations – Apapa Station, Lagos Station, Agege Station, Agbado Station (on the Lagos corridor); Abeokuta Station, Kajola Station and Papalanto Station (Ogun corridor), and Olodo Station, Omi-Adio Station and , Ibadan Station (in Ibadan, Oyo State). The stations are split into major and minor ones.
Pace of construction
While the Lagos Station, Abeokuta Station and Ibadan Station fall into the category of major stations, the remaining seven – Apapa, Agege and Agbado Stations (in Lagos), Kajola and Papalanto Stations (in Ogun), and Olodo and Omi Adio Stations (in Oyo), are minor stations.
For Amaechi, while all major stations may tarry till December, all minor ones ought to be ready to enable Nigerians enjoy the benefit of the massive investment in the railway modernisation agenda, which started in 2002, and sustained by the Buhari administration.
The delivery will be a befitting 60th anniversary gift by the Federal Government to the Southwest, which will have three of its six states connected by the national asset.
The Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge (categorised as LOT II) was flagged off in 2017 by the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, as part of the Lagos-Kano railway corridor known as the Western line, with the remaining scope of work – Ibadan to Kano ready for take-off once this was delivered.
The Nation’s checks on the status of these stations last weekend showed some readiness on the part of the contractor to deliver on the project.
Gone forever in all the areas visited are the decrepit structures that hitherto served as stations. In place are structures that are befitting andwill wholesomely complement the rolling stock that will be deployed for passenger and freight services once the project is completed.
Many of the stations are already drawing a crowd of spectators. One of the skilled workers at Agbado, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the station is usually a beehive, as several people, including community leaders usually pay the place a visit to see the extent of work at the station.
A local engineer met at the Agege Station, Gabriel Amunega, expressed confidence that three of the minor stations – Agege, Kajola and Olodo Stations would be ready by month end.
He said what remained on these three stations are inner fittings and paint coatings, while efforts are being made to ensure that the remaining four minor stations which are in various stages of completions are made ready subsequently.
Amunega said the work was gravely impacted by the lockdown order by the Federal Government which was necessary as the nation battles with containing community transmission of COVID-19, adding that with the lifting of the order, the contractor had massively employed artisans and other cadres of professionals to ensure that lost ground are recovered.
Amunega said because the CCECC recognises the connection between transportation and tourism, attention is being put at making all these new stations very attractive and a tourist centre.
“Beyond each of them being a hub for commercial activities in communities where they are sited, attention has been put at ensuring all the stations are in themselves, tourists centres where people can come for sight-seeing and equally carry out economic activities as there are provision of commercial areas in many of them, especially the big (major) stations,” the engineer said.
Amunega’s supervisor, a Chinese, who spoke on condition of anonymity gave further details into the specifications of some of these stations.
According to the Chinese engineer, the Lagos Station which is located at Adekunle, in the Ebute-Metta area of Mainland Lagos, is the biggest of all the major stations.
Sitting on an elevated platform, the station with the height of 26 metres, according to the Chinese would upon completion, become the largest railway station and the most distinctive landmark station building in West Africa due to its unique appearance.
He said: “The Lagos Station consists of two buildings, an entrance hall in the front and waiting hall at the rear, which are connected by lounge bridges. “Passengers would pass the security check and buy tickets at the entrance hall, then enter the waiting hall through the lounge bridges, and finally go downstairs either through the elevators or escalators for boarding. Inside buildings are six escalators and six elevators. There is also stairway, for those who would prefer them. There are commercial and banking areas, VIP lounges for arrival and departure, and prayer rooms, conveniences and rest and relaxation spots for passengers’ comfort.”
The total land area of the Lagos Station, he added, is 11,200 square metres, and the station is an elevated station with maximum passenger flow of 6000 people at a time.
Apart from the Lagos Station, Abeokuta and Ibadan stations are the other two quite large stations, each with a building area of 4000 square metres. The remaining two in lesser degrees have the same features as the Lagos Station, having VIP lounges, commercial and banking areas, security features, prayer rooms among others.
At the Lagos Station alone 600 skilled workers are on site, working three shifts, to the contractor meets the work schedule. He said by December, the skyline of Adekunle and Alagomeji would be beholding a gem of engineering expertise and exquisite finish, adding that right now, more than 90 percent of the façade and steel structure of the entrance hall have been completed.
Describing the Lagos Station as 55 percent completed, the Chinese said 10 local engineers are working with CCECC on the Lagos Station alone, adding that the project has capacity to employ many Nigerians in the various capacities.
￼He added that both the major and minor stations along this railway line are being comprehensively worked upon simultaneously adding that the overall progress of all the stations is about 50 percent.
The engineer said the contractor’s greatest fear again is the rainy season, adding that the onset of the raining season in the country may hinder the speed of work as most of the earthwork would be negatively impacted by the rain.
He said while the structures at all the stations whether major or minor are at various stages of completion, other civil engineering works such as creation of access roads, stabilization of the parking areas and other external works may be impacted by the rain. He however assured that to the best of its ability, CCECC would ensure that the rain poses no significant challenge to the completion of this phase of the project
“What we are saying is that though the rain may pose some challenges, we are ready to ensure that it does not significantly affect our operations,” he said. The station buildings itself would be ready, but the external areas and the access roads would be ready by the rain,” he said.
Logisticians have commended the Federal Government on the impending berthing of standard gauge on what was arguably the busiest and most lucrative corridor of the Nigerian Railway Corporation.
Lucky Kelikume, a railway logistics consultant said the new rolling stock investment would open up the nation’s economy.
NRC’s Managing Director Fidet Okhiria described the massive investment in the railway architecture as “a life-changing event for the corporation and Nigerians because this infrastructure will take Nigeria to the comity of emerging markets and nations.
“There is no way there can be any socio-economic development without modern transportation infrastructure which would be complemented by modern stations. What we are doing today will revolutionalise Nigeria in a very special way. The travel time between Abeokuta and Lagos has drastically reduced and that will affect so many things and the way of life of our people. It will affect prices of agricultural commodities as our people in Abeokuta and environs can take advantage of the ready market in Lagos, and those trading in other commodities can also readily go to Lagos to trade and return on time. It would also affect the housing stock and bust the high rent rate in urban metropolis of Lagos as many people can live in Abeokuta or Ibadan and commute to their work place in Lagos, without stress,” he said.
The $1.7 billion, 157 kilometre-long Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge, was initially awarded to CCECC in 2012. The project, now known as LOT II of the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Project, was not flagged off until March 7, 2017, with a 36-month cycle.
On May 15, 2018, Amaechi signed a $6.68 billion contract with the CCECC to complete the remaining segment of the Lagos–Kano Standard Gauge Railway. Construction is expected to be completed in three years based on the availability of funds. Sections to be addressed in what is to be known as LOT III are: Ibadan-Ilorin (200 km); Ilorin-Minna (270 km); Minna-Abuja and Kaduna-Kano (305 km).
The railway modernisation is in continuation of the Federal Government’s programme, an extension of the master plan that started 18 years ago with the repair and rehabilitation of the old narrow gauge tracks, constructed on the same corridor a little over a century ago, and the repair of the rolling stock – wagons and coaches to improve its operations.
What the Buhari administration, has added to the mix since it came on board since 2015, is the speed which has seen the LOT II completed within its first cycle of the project’s life.
Source: Nation Newspaper. The original article can be accessed here: https://thenationonlineng.net/bequeathing-befitting-train-stations-to-nigerians/