By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja +Sundiata Post) – Honourable Minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has apologized to Nigerians for the disruptions experienced in some train services on the Abuja- Kaduna rail due to technical issues with some of the coaches.
Amaechi made this known after his monthly inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project.
According to the Minister, the breakdown is worrisome because the coaches are new.
“The locomotives are under warranty. We have called the chinese to come back for the locomotives that are bad or have failed more than two or three times . On behalf of government and on behalf of the ministry and NRC, we apologize to Nigerians and we have told NRC to either fix it or get the chinese to fix it. And if that is not happening, then they should bring back the old locomotives. It may therefore affect the number of times we are able to run because we just brought those locomotives to increase pasenger services”.
Commenting on his assessment of the project so far from the inspection carried out, the minister lamented the slow pace of work and urged that more hands be engaged and work should be round the clock ,to meet up with the deadline.
“There is a need to increase the pace of work. They were doing well, but yhe pace of work has slowed down. Covid is no longer an excuse, they have worked for three months, we insist, the Permanent Secretary, myself Chairman of NRC, and MD Railway have agreed that the tech committee should meet with them tomorrow to ensure that they put measures to ensure that the pace of work is increased so that by the next time we come here for inspection, we will see a huge improvement. They gave covid as an excuse for cutting down the number of workers but if you wear your mask snd sanitize your hands, yoh will reduce the risk of infection”.
Offering clarification on the alleged demand by the Minister for 600 million naira for the Lagos- Ibadan project,the Minister says all the money needed for the project had already been approved.
” I did not say at the National Assembly that we will require 650m dollars. I saiid the cost of the contract was 1.6billon dollars but between itakpe and Warri and Lagos to Ibadan, we had to ask for 650million dollars or so for extra work that has been approved a long time. I was just repeating it to the National Assembly to know not that we are asking for fresh money”.
On the Kano Maradi rail line, Amaechi said the essence of that line is for us to be able to transport cargo, not just from Niger Republic but from neighboring states.
“We are not competing well with Togo, Benin Republic ,ivory coast and Ghana over cargoes that come from the land locked states”.
The excuse they give for the poor competition by Nigeria is that our roads are bad, crimnals attack them , police check points and customs checkpoint. They are not able to do business due to high cost of transactions. If we have to compete favorably, it means that Nigeria has to repair or rebuild their roads. But a rail line will solve the problem”.
He further explained that goods coming from Niger Republic will be processed in Maradi by the Nigerian customs and straight to Apapa sea port which attracts more business for the country.
“We are tired of giving this explanation. We do not have wives from Niger Republic. The first time I was in Niger Republic was about three weeks ago, to ask the government tp give us right of Way and where we can build warehouses for these business’. We are doing this to grow the economy and create employment. Simple! Even if we stop it at Jibya, Jibya to Maradi is just 12km.
The MD NRC Mr Fidet Okhiria, who spoke to journalist on the sidelines during the inspection, gave assurance that commercial activities on Lagos- Ibadan will commence on the 7th of December 2020.