THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA IS UNHAPPY WITH $1.6BN LAGOS/IBADAN RAIL PROJECT

The Federal Government has expressed concern over the pace of work on the Lagos – Ibadan railway project.

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi conveyed government’s position on Monday during an on-the-spot assessment of construction work on the strategic rail corridor at Papalanto, Ogun State

Amaechi, who briefed newsmen at the end of the inspection tour, said $1.6 billion project sixty per cent completed.

The minister, however, said the contractors, China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC), had promised to accelerate the pace of work, especially as the December deadline for completion, draws near.

“I am not satisfied, and they have reason for me not being satisfied. They are not God and they cannot control so many elements, and so allow the element take place and this is earthwork and it cannot be done during raining season”, Amaechi said.

He said the contractors had blamed the slow pace of work on issues of resistance by communities, difficulty in earthwork as a result of the rains among others.

“We are progressing and you will agree with me that we are. We felt that they have slowed down and their argument is that there is no way they could have done the earthwork during the raining season and we have been meeting and they briefed us that they will improve now that the rain appears to be stopping.

“But, their fear is that in the next one or two weeks, the rain will come again but immediately after that, they will increase the pace to make up for the past months that the rain has slowed them down.

“These are human beings for Christ sake. I am not talking about the contractors but the workers”, the minister noted.

Meanwhile, the former Rivers State Governor has said, that 12 kilometres tracks had been laid along the corridor so far, even as he quoted the contractors as saying 90 per cent earthwork had been achieved.

“They have done 12 km and don’t forget that they only did three kilometres the last time we were here, but I am still not impressed but their argument is that the track laying is not the problem because they said they can lay as many tracks as possible in a day but that the problem is earthwork.

“They said we should pray that the rain should stop in order for them to complete the earthwork. They have done 90 percent of earthwork from Ijoko up to Abeokuta and they think that in one or two weeks after the rain, they will complete the 10percent. So by the end of September they should have finished the bridges from Iju to Abeokuta but that still doesn’t solve our problem because that is not the contract because the contract which is phase one is Ebute Metta to Ibadan. We are pushing them that even if they complete in September, they still need to complete from Abeokuta to Ibadan and we still need to complete from Iju to Ebute Metta which is the Lagos State part of the project.

“They have agreed that there will be improvement; it is not the construction that is my problem, it is the stations. You would have observed that there are no stations except for Ebute Metta which just started.

“They may complete the tracks but that does not mean we can Commission without stations because where will the passengers take off from to engage with the train? There are no stations but we have discussed it and they will commence and complete it hopefully before December.”

Speaking on the earlier directive for the completion of the rail stations, he said: “They will start construction of the stations. There were initial problems; in Abeokuta, demolition was a problem, in Agbado and Agege; we had problems with the community and it was not the usual problem.

“This time, the community was not ready to contribute more land but they have agreed now. In Ebute Metta, we had problem with having to move the occupants of the property buy we gave done all that and now construction will commence and that is why I said I pray that they complete all the stations before the end of December because tracks are not just the problems.”

The minister disclosed that the federal government had paid its counterpart fund of N72 billion, at the inception of the project.

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Oludare J. Olusan
Oludare J. Olusan 235 posts

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