The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Wednesday, conducted a train inspection tour of the 156km Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project.

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The train departed the Iddo station before midday with the Minister and top management staff of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) stopping at several stations along the project line to get updates from the contractors on the quality and progress report of the construction work.

The rail tracks for the 156km rail project have been completed but the stations are still under construction.

Trading along the rail tracks was observed at Agege and Oshodi stations where traders are seen in clusters close to the rail line.

Marketers near the train tracks
Marketers near the train tracks.

During the tour, Amaechi said the contractors working on the 156km modern rail project did not meet his target for the inspection.

The Minister had in August set a December deadline for the completion of the three mega stations at Ebute Metta, Kajola and Omi-Adio in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states and a September deadline for seven minor stations.

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The railway line is being constructed by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

He said that in some of the 10 stations along the line, the contractor, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), had finished doors, windows, roofing, flooring, ceiling and lighting.

“Olodo (Station) is just near the completion. At Kajola, what is outstanding is just painting. There are changes at Ebute-Metta. There was improvement in Kajola, Olodo, and Ebute-Meta, though, not to the extend I expect that it should be.

“They have given us the target; by the end of September, three stations will be ready.

“By the end of October, all the minor stations will be ready, that is six stations. By the end of December, every station will be ready.

“The only one station they (CCECC) are afraid of is Apapa (Station) because they started very late, but I insisted that Apapa should be completed at the same time as the rest,” he said.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.

The Minister said he had assured the contractor of the provision of a task force to help the speedy completion of Apapa Station, adding that he would come to assess the work by the end of September.

He expressed the belief that everything would be put in place before the end of December for movement to passengers and goods.

The minister said, “They (the contractors) didn’t meet my target for this inspection. My target was by September 15, they will finish the minor stations. But they gave an excuse that because of COVID-19, they don’t have enough engineers on site. As for me, I want this job done because I want to move out of Lagos.

“By end of October, they should finish the minor stations and by the end of December, they will finish the three major stations excluding Apapa but we are insisting that a special task force is set up to complete it within the same time as the others.”

Amaechi added that there had been changes since the last time he inspected the railway line.

On what next after the project, the minister said that apart from Ibadan to Kano rail line, the ministry had sent to the cabinet for approval of the award of two railway contracts.

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According to him, the contracts are Port Harcourt–Onne -Maiduguri; Kano-Maradi Railway and Lagos to Calabar.

Also, Mr Fidet Okhiria, the Managing Director of NRC, said that the corporation was still discussing with the contractor on when to commence skeletal operations on the Lagos-Ibadan Rail line.

Okhiria said that the rolling stocks had been delivered, but the corporation was discussing some modalities, including safety.

According to him, the NRC has not fixed any date for the skeletal commercial operation.