By Dirisu Yakubu – Ibadan
The federal government will commence work on Port Harcourt-Bonny-Maiduguri railway corridor as soon as the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge is completed, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has assured.
Amaechi however added that the planned commencement is subject to approval by the Federal Executive Council, FEC.
The Minister stated this in Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, while on an inspection tour to ascertain the level of work done on the stations along the corridor.
“We have sent to the cabinet the request for approval of two railway contracts, Port Harcourt – Bonny to Maiduguri. If that is awarded, that will be the next assignment for the Ministry of Transportation. The Kano-Maradi line, which passes through Kano, Dutse, Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibiya, Maradi is also in line for commencement.
“We are also pursuing the loan for the contract which has been awarded for the Lagos to Calabar rail line. We also expect that Ibadan to Kano will commence before the end of this year,” Amaechi said.
On the Lagos-Ibadan railway project, Amaechi noted that not much has been done, adding that the building of the Apapa station has just started.
“I want them to finish all the stations at the same time. And I have insisted that a special task force be set up to make sure Apapa station is completed the same time as all the others. If you see the station at Olodo, there is an improvement. They have finished flooring, roofing, lighting, ceilings; just doors, and windows are left now. Again, what is left at Kajola is just painting. There is an improvement in Olodo and Ebute-metta too.
“The only station I am not satisfied is the last one in Ibadan. However, they have given us the following targets: End of September, three stations will be ready; end of October, all the seven minor stations will be ready; end of December, everything will be ready,” he added.
The ministers also expressed optimism in the possibility of more engineers joining their colleagues on-site to accelerate the pace of work.
“The timeline hasn’t changed, but they didn’t meet my target for this inspection. My target was that by today, they would have finished the minor stations, but they gave an excuse that because of COVID-19, they hadn’t enough engineers on site. What you have is the same engineers supervising Agbado and Agege. So they move in between and that is slowing down the work.
“As for me, I want this job done because I want to move out of Lagos. Their submission is that by next week, all engineers will be on-site and work will commence and once work commences, they will be faster and by the end of September, they should finish the three major stations.”