By Chibuike Nwabuko
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has disclosed that the Lagos Ibadan rail line requires additional funding to enable the construction of over 16 bridges across or under the existing road network in Lagos into Apapa in order to be able to take the project to the seaport
Speaking at Papalanto in Ogun during inspection at the weekend, he explained that “there is extra work because if you go to Lagos with rail, either people will die because is not a narrow-gauge train, it is a speed train running at about 120km/hour. So those crosses you see, if you don’t create an avenue for buses to cross, you will block Lagos completely and there would be traffic madness.
“So we are creating underpass and overpasses, they are necessarily about 11 to 16 of them (bridges) which would cost money, so we need to go and get approval from the government” noting that, he would immediately take the proposal to the Federal Executive Council.
Amaechi lamented that the absence of a Minister slowed down work on the rail project, “the project has moved a beat slow and not entirely very slow and their (contractors) reason is funding, there are IPCs that nobody could have signed rather than the minister and there was no minister within that period.
“So I would sign it on Monday when I get to the office and it would be paid by China NEXIM bank. On our side, we owed them compensation, land acquisition payment and there are new approvals we need to get from the cabinet which we cannot commence work unless we get those approvals.”
The Minister further explained that certain funds needed to push the construction work pass through certain segment required approval.
“There is a place we stopped at Agege, that place is an underpass, so we cannot do anything about it because they are waiting for approval.
“We will go to cabinet quickly to get approval so that they can continue with their construction. Our target is that they should please hurry and get to the seaport to evacuate the goods in the seaport and if we cannot eliminate it, at least reduce what people will refer to Apapa gridlock, that can only happen when people begin to move by train.”
He also disclosed that plans have been concluded to commenced the construction of a University of Transport Technology in Kastina State and also the construction of a factory that will be manufacturing coaches for the train service.
“We also agree with them to have between September and October two major groundbreaking ceremony; one is the university at Daura, the University of Transportation, and a groundbreaking ceremony at Kajorla, we are insisting that they cannot continue to manufacture coaches, Locomotives, wagons in china to us.
So part of the benefit we get out of the contract is that they would build a factory at Kajorla to manufacture wagons, then progress from wagons to locomotive and Nigerians will understudy them, Amaechi stated.