Considering the pace at which working is progressing on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line being handled by the China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC), the project may be delivered this year, our findings have revealed.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, alongside members of the House of Representatives Committee on Land Transport, Tuesday, embarked on a test-run ride through 32 kilometres of the tracks in a rail car.
Prior to the test-run, pressure had been on the contractor to complete the work within two years, although the project has a three-year timeline.
However, to the charging of many observers who expressed optimism on the timely delivery of the project, the team which included officials of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) led by its Managing Director, Engr. Fidet Okhiria, embarked on the over one-hour train ride.
An excited Amaechi dedicated the test-run to the stakeholders who have been part of the project from the beginning, especially the media which kept the government on its toes since it commenced.
Amaechi said, “When we started, it was a huge forest. In fact, as we traversed this place, most places are no longer known to us, if you remember. In fact, there are now bridges in the little water we used to drive across. There are now valleys in the hills we used to climb. There are changes.
“We are gradually coming to the end of the project because we are six kilometres away from Abeokuta and I have been assured that we would be able to ride from Iju to Abeokuta at least by the first week in January. The idea is to bring the vice president and some ministers to join us in the ride.
“When we do the ride, we will then allow passengers to use it up to Abeokuta. Our target is that by the end of the month, we should get to Ibadan by rail, then we can begin to put the pressure on them to build the stations.
“They are working on the stations, but they are slow. But I have told them the emphasis should be on the tracks. In fact, today I will tell them to focus on one track to the end so that while we are using that one, you are building the second one. But as you are building the two, it is slowing down the construction period.”
Daily Trust Saturday observed that the tracks would have been completed from Iju in Lagos to Abeokuta if not for the construction of a bridge.
“As long as the bridge is constructed and we are able to move our equipment, you can be rest assured that the entire stretch of the tracks from Iju to Abeokuta would have been completed,” the minister added.
However, it was gathered that the contractor still has a lot of work to do from the Abeokuta to Ibadan section as the minister also pointed out.
Amaechi is expected to meet with the CCECC management and that of the project’s consultant, TIM, to deliberate on how to fast-track work on the Ibadan axis.
Sources say the minister is currently sustaining the pressure on the contractor to deploy more equipment and personnel to Ibadan, while effort is ongoing to address the encumbrances in the Lagos axis up to Apapa.
CCECC Project Coordinator, Leo Yin, assured that the company would sustain the tempo in line with the minister’s directive.
Yin said the feat which made the minister and his team to ride on the 32-kilometre stretch of the track was due to the fact that they now worked day and night.
“Over 9000 Nigerians, including engineers and artisans, have been employed in the project”, he said.
- This artcle was first published in Daily Trust Nigeria