Minister of Transport, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, said 20 new coaches for the Abuja-Kaduna and the Lagos-Ibadan rail lines would arrive the country in about six weeks.
Amaechi said this while answering questions on his arrival from China at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
Explaining the thrust of his official visit to China, where he took delivery of some new trains, Amaechi said: “We went for two items, basically to get more locomotives and coaches. They’re all ready. It will take six weeks to get to Nigeria and maybe one week to clear them. For the Lagos trains it will be easy, it will take a day or two to get it to the track, but for the trains coming to Abuja, it will take one week or two to get it here. To my surprise, the coaches we released two or three weeks ago to go to Kaduna arrived just within two days. So, we hope that when these trains arrive Lagos seaport, we should be able to get them fast.
“We are expecting twenty coaches, ten for Abuja-Kaduna and ten for Lagos-Ibadan as a temporary measure, more will then arrive in the second batch as we complete Lagos-Ibadan.”
The minister while taking delivery of the new newly built trains in China, did a test run of the locomotives and motored cars. He confirmed that these trains were better improved and of higher technology than what obtained previously. He added that more trains are still being built for Nigeria and the next batch would be delivered as soon as they are ready.
On maintenance, he said, he’s making sure that every contract comes with a maintenance contract, while rail engineers from Nigeria are being trained in China to take over the maintenance from the Chinese. The reason for these maintenance contracts he said is that, “as Governor of Rivers State, I made sure that everything I did in Rivers State was maintained, I kept a maintenance contract going, what is happening there now, I won’t know. So when people ask me, what do you do about maintenance? The answer is, In all our contracts, you have a maintenance contract. Like now, the one for Abuja has expired and I’ve just directed them to renew the contract. Though I’m going to seek approval from both the President and the cabinet, but the Chinese should not leave the site for now.
“Also, what is critical to the sustenance of of our railway system is what we are doing in China. We are training our people, the Chinese won’t live here for ever, they have to go, so our own engineers will take over; and I met with some of those Nigerian engineers during my China trip. We hope that in the coming years, they will come back and then we can stop the Chinese maintenance contract in both Kaduna-Abuja and Lagos-Ibadan…,” Amaechi said.
For Warri-Itakpe, the minister assured that it would be completed early next year.
“That one is nearing completion. It should be completed by January/February, March latest, but that’s not the problem, the problem is Abuja to Itakpe with the Seaport in Warri. We’ve signed all the documents, we are waiting for the Chinese.”