By Yemi Adeleye
Lagos – The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) says it is awaiting official communication from the contractor handling Lagos-Ibadan standard rail line to resume suspended Lagos-Ogun rail mass transit operations.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalled that the NRC, had on Sept. 30, stopped daily train services on the existing narrow gauge from Ijoko in Ogun to Ebute Meta-Apapa in Lagos.
The suspension was to fast track the completion of the new Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge line which required shifting the existing narrow gauge and relaying it to accommodate the standard gauge rail line.
The project is being handled by China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC).
The corporation had informed its customers that the suspended train services would resume on Nov. 15, but there seem to be no end to the waiting game by commuters.
Mr Jerry Oche, the Lagos District Manager of NRC, said that the work was still ongoing, but said that the corporation was not unconcerned about the suffering many commuters were going through since the suspension of the service.
Oche urged commuters to be patient, explaining that the persistent rainfall experienced in the last few weeks had hindered the contractor from delivering the project as projected.
The NRC boss said: “we have not resumed; we were supposed to have resumed on Nov. 15, but the work is still ongoing.
“We are awaiting an official response from the CCECC on the exact date of resumption or the reason why we have not resumed. Officially they have not communicated to us.
“But we all know why. We are aware that in October there were 23 days of rain out of 31. The contractors could not move as much as they should.
“Our teeming customers have to be patient; there is nothing we can do. We know what our customers are going through, we see it, but there is nothing we can do. What has to be done, has to be done.’’
Oche, however, said that the corporation had been mounting pressure on the contractor to expedite work on the project so as not to further prolong the plights of the masses that depended on rail to move around.
“Nobody is going to compromise safety and standards, but we can be time conscious because of the sufferings – that is what we are doing and telling the contractor.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, had on Sept. 23, announced November as deadline for the trial services on the about-to-be- completed Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line.
Meanwhile, the contractor is still battling with removal of narrow gauge and relaying them, construction of drains and bridges, among others, at the Lagos axis of the project.