By Seun Ibiyemi
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has expressed disappointed over work on the ongoing $1.5 billion Lagos- Ibadan Standard gauge rail.
China Civil Construction Corporation (CCECC) had assured that the first phase of the $1.5billionn Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail will be completed in first week of January this year.
Speaking recently during a routine inspection of the project, the Minister expressed his disappointed with Chinese contractors over the work done, warning that the project must be completed in two weeks or risk non-approval of further Interim Payment Certificate (IPC) following the approval of N42billion last week..
According to him “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 the Minister “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 am sure something will be done in the next two weeks.”
Speaking on the pace of work, he said “the contract is three years and we are only pushing them if they can submit 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.
He added that the equipment we are talking of are not off the shelf equipment.
“Getting more hands is not the problem but getting the equipment for more hands to use is the problem. What we saw from Agbado to Iju is not a matter of more hands, it’s a matter of equipment. These are equipment you apply for from overseas and they ship it down. So if the equipment arrives, probably they will finish the job.
“Nigerians are waiting for these projects, for example from Lagos to Ibadan is 30 minutes compared to when you take the road which is 1 hour plus, big men, poor men will want to use because is economical, also with this business will grow and employment will come,” he said.