The Federal Government has announced plans to commence construction of the Eastern rail line connecting Port Harcourt – Bonny to Maiduguri.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi made the disclosure in Ibadan, shortly after inspecting the level of work on all the Stations across the Lagos-Ibadan rail corridor.
According to the minister, work on the new rail line will begin upon completion of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project by December.
He, however, noted that the commencement of work on the project, was subject to approval by the Federal Executive Council.
This was as he listed other projects scheduled for implementation, including the Kano/Maradi line and the Ibadan to Kano section of the Lagos to Kano rail line.
Amaechi said: “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 Transport. Also the Kano – Maradi line, which passes through Kano, Dutse, Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibiya, Maradi.
“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.”
On the Lagos-Ibadan railway project, he noted that much work has not been done on the Apapa station because the building of the station just commenced, “but I want them to finish all the stations at same time. And I have insisted that a special taskforce be set up to make sure Apapa station is completed same time as all the others. If you see the station at Olodo, there are improvements, they finished flooring, roofing, lighting, ceilings; just doors and windows left. Again, what is left at Kajola is just painting. There is improvement in Olodo and Ebute-metta.
“The only station in which I am not satisfied is this last station 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 said.
Amaechi also disclosed that the contractors were expecting more engineers on site to speed up construction.
“The timeline hasn’t changed, but they didn’t meet my target for this inspection, my target was that by today (September 15), they would have finished the minor stations, but they gave an excuse that because of Covid 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.”
Meanwhile, the former Rivers State Governor has frowned at illegal activities going on along rail tracks in Lagos, particularly the Oshodi incident.
Reacting to the accident that occurred in Oshodi on Monday, Amaechi said the Ministry would collaborate with the Lagos State government to ensure fencing of the tracks, which he said has already began in some parts to avert such incidents.
He however frowned at the misuse of rail tracks by traders and warned that defaulters will henceforth be punished.
“The accident that happened near oshodi was because the guy was parked on the track waiting for them to open and I am told by the experts that it takes about 800metres for the train to stop”.
“Its unfortunate that there is a loss of life and the Governor and I have agreed that Lagosians know that the train track is not a market and when we start running, they need to give way to the track”.
“The Governor and i have agreed that there should be enforcement of law. People should go to jail for breaking the law. Next thing is we are fencing the Lagos corridor”, he said.