President Muhammadu Buhari has commissioned for commercial use the Lagos-ibadan Standard railway line. He just performed this at the Ebutte Meta station of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).
In attendance were Minister of Transport, Hon, Rotimi Amaechi, Lagos state Governor, Babajide Sanwo Olu, NRC MD, Fidet Okhiria among others.
Buhari Flags Off $1.5bn Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line For Commercial Operations
By Ignatius Ushie
President Muhammadu Buhari has flagged off for operations the $1.5 billion Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway project.
The latest project marks the third standard gauge rail project commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in the last five years after Abuja-Kaduna and Itakpe-Warri rail line.
The 157 kilometers rail line runs from Apapa-Wharf in Lagos through Ogun state and terminated at Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Buhari while inaugurating the rail line described the project as another milestone in the drive of Nigeria to revitalize the railway system and establish it as a choice mode of transportation for both passengers and freight.
The President promised that his administration would continue to prioritise the railway system as a transportation backbone that can transform industrial and economic activities in the country.
Speaking on the benefits of the Lagos-Ibadan corridor as well as other on-going railway projects across the country, President Buhari said: ‘‘This vital line establishes an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos – Ibadan, as goods to the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa port Quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country.
‘‘In clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by absence of strong and effective infrastructure, we have in the rail sector, further to other ongoing railway infrastructure projects, embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos – Kano railway, which is Ibadan – Kano.
‘‘The Lagos – Kano railway project when completed will link the Kano – Maradi line at Kano and a rail link from the Nigeria southern ports of Lagos to Maradi in Niger Republic will be achieved.
‘‘The connection through rail would position Nigerian ports as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic.
‘‘This would be beneficial to the economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation.’’
The President expressed delight that his directive to the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance on reaching financial agreements with appropriate co-financiers to partner with the Federal Government for the development of the Ibadan – Kano railway was yielding results, adding that Ibadan-Kano project would have a connection to the Tin Can Island port as well as the West – East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.
According to him,‘‘From the beginning of this administration, railway infrastructure development has been given the priority it deserves and various milestones have been reached, right from when the Abuja – Kaduna railway was flagged-off for commercial operation in 2016 to this Lagos – Ibadan railway project being commissioned today for full commercial operation,’’ he said.
While commending the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, for his drive and tenacity in achieving the milestone recorded, the President praised the ‘‘wonderful team in the Ministry’’ for a job well done.
Shortly after he inaugurated the project, President Buhari took a ride from Ebute Metta Station to Energy Nature Light (ENL), Terminal, Apapa Port, Lagos.
He was joined by the Speaker House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Governors of Ekiti, Oyo, Ogun and the Deputy Governor of Ondo, the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of State Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, other Ministers as well as some government officials.
Earlier, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation, expressed profound gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for summoning the courage to take the loan from China Exim bank to execute the rail project.
Amaechi also thanked the Chinese government for the loan while expressing hope that the Asian country also approve the loan for the Ibadan to Kano axis stressing that the Buhari administration intends to start and complete the project before the end of its tenure.
According to him, “We are grateful that the Chinese government through the China Exim bank was able to give us the loan at a concessionary rate to construct from the seaport down to Ibadan. We hope that we get money to be able to construct from Ibadan to Kano so that we can complete the track and make sure that business takes place”.
Amaechi specifically expressed satisfaction with the cooperation enjoyed from Lagos, Ogun and Oyo state governments, stressing that at Ogun state alone over 1000 houses were demolished in the course of the construction.
Ibrahim Alhassan Musa, the Chairman Nigerian Railway Corporation governing board, in his remarks, recalled that the infrastructure development project had faced so many challenges in the course of its execution and delivery.
He noted that without the full support and steadfast encouragement of President Buhari, the project would not have been completed.
He also expressed thanks to the NPA, NNPC, Lagos MOT, LAMATA, Lagos Water Corporation, Oil serve whose cooperation facilitated the timely completion of the project.