By Seun Ibiyemi
Following a two-week ultimatum by the federal government to China Civil Construction Corporation (CCECC) to complete the first phase of the $1.5billion Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway, a source within the corporation has disclosed to Nigerian NewsDirect that government was playing politics with the project.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi had assured Nigerians that the first phase of the $1.5bn Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail would be completed in first week of January.
The source revealed to Nigerian NewsDirect that the project’s agreement between the federal government and CCECC was for three years.
The source explained further that Amaechi as a politician always expressed his mind without considering reality of the project.
He disclosed that the Minister aimed at launching the project with Vice President Yemi Osibanjo from Iju to Abeokuta on or before the end of January, stressing that the contactors at the site are working round the clock.
According to him, “The pace of work at the site is not easy. So, when he comes for another inspection this week, we will explain to him whatsoever is on ground.”
He added that “if you are observant, you will see that the deputy manager of CCECC is always on a counter side not promising if the work will be completed within the two-week ultimatum given to them.”
Speaking at a routine inspection of the project early January, the minister expressed disappointment with the CCECC over the pace of the job.
This came on the heels of FG’s directive for CCECC to deliver the project within two weeks or risk non-approval of further Interim Payment Certificate (IPC) following the approval of N42billion.
He said “ The problem they have now is the civil work from Agbado to Iju which is critical to me because I don’t think people will go to Agbado to go and pick train, the closer we are to Lagos the better for the rail that is why we stop here so that CCECC will tell me where we are going to be in the next two weeks.
According to Rotimi Amaechi “there is huge improvement up to Dk 77 and where we are is Dk79 and they have said in the next two weeks they will get to the tunnel and will be able to cross over the tunnel.
“Then, I also want them to get the same speed in the construction of Agbado to Iju, we agree that there are human factors, they are using our right of way as their road but I am sure something will be done in the next two weeks.
Speaking on the pace of work, he said “the contract is three years; we are only pushing them if they can summit the project before the three years because I want them to finish on time”
“Part of the solution to Lagos seaport gridlock is an efficient rail line, we do not argue that the narrow gauge is there but is not efficient, once the standard gauge is fixed those goods will be transferred to the rail and the gridlock will disappear.
It not clearing that is the problem at the seaport, goods are cleared on time but the problem is how to move those goods out of the seaport.
“The pressure is more economical than political, so we need to put more pressure on them and once they have completed from Abeokuta to Iju the next pressure is from Iju to the seaport.