By Ignatius Ushie
President Muhammadu Buhari will commission the Lagos-Ibadan Railway by June, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation, has said.
The Minister, who disclosed this on at Ibadan at the end of the monthly inspection of the project over the weekend, said since the contractors, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, has achieved over 90 percent completion, a date would be chosen in the month of June for commissioning.
According to Amaechi, there is a maintenance plan between the federal government and CCECC within the next three to five years.
“And by then, I would have left government but for me and within the period I am serving as minister, there is an agreement between us and CCECC for the purpose of maintenance.”
Amaechi also ordered the arrest of buyers of vandalised rail track facilities and other equipment.
He said cases of vandalisation exists because there are those who have indicated interest in the vandalised facilities.
The Minister also said the rate of vandalisation would reduce if the judiciary system dispenses justice without delay, adding that State Government needs to create more jobs.
On the vandalisation of the rail tracks and other facilities, he said: “I don’t know why some Nigerians are like the way they are. I have told the Managing Director of NRC to arrest the buyers of the equipment. It is not enough to arrest the vandals.
“It is likened to those who said why should the National Assembly punish those who pay ransom, that law was first passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly when I was a speaker and the reason is, that, when there is no demand, there will be no supply.
“If we don’t pay ransom, they will be tired and they will stop. The same way, if they don’t buy those metals, slippers and others, nobody will steal them.”
He said: “Also, we must approach the Judiciary to have court that can dispense justice readily so that people are sent to jail early enough to deter others and we will also encourage our governors to create jobs.”
The Minister also hinted that some people who have been vandalising the facilities have been arrested.
Amaechi also said the Lagos-Ibadan project would be commissioned next month after getting approval from the office of the president.
He said: “I hope the Office of the President will approve the commissioning of this project in June. We will communicate the actual date in the next one or two weeks but certainly, I think it is in June.
“We are not 100 percent ready for commissioning but if for nothing, we are 89 to 90 percent ready for commissioning and we are hoping that by the next three weeks we will be ready and by then, they will give us a date from the office of the President. One thing is that by the time they give us a date, we will be ready for commissioning.”
He also said the e-ticketing platform would be deployed to Lagos-Ibadan route in order to manage the envisaged passenger traffic.
“I have directed the MD of NRC to advertise for the e-ticketing and we hope the traffic that we will witness on this axis will be managed with that platform.”