The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi is currently on a monthly inspection tour of the 156km Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project.
The train departed the Iddo station before midday with the minister and top management staff of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) stopping at various stations along the project line to get updates from the contractors on the quality and progress report of the construction work.
The rail tracks for the 156km rail project have been completed but the stations are still under construction.
Trading along the rail tracks still seem to be a challenge as observed at Agege and Oshodi stations where traders are seen in clusters close to the rail line.
The Lagos-Ibadan railway, one of the major projects embarked on by the Federal Government, is being handled by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has explained how the Coronavirus outbreak is affecting the speedy completion of Lagos-Ibadan expressway.
Amaechi disclosed this on Wednesday while addressing participants at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) consultative round table.
According to Amaechi, the project would have been completed in May but might not be feasible anymore because the contractors handling the project are employees of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
“Lagos-Ibadan would have been ready in May. Unfortunately, nearly all of them that went for the Chinese New Year were quarantined by their government. Their government said they cannot come back until they find a solution to the Coronavirus.
“It is only those who didn’t travel that are here and therefore the speed of the construction has reduced,” he said.
In November 2019, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi assured that the project would be delivered by April 2020.
He, however, took to his Twitter handle in January 2020 to lament the pace of work done by the contractors.
“Looking at the state of work in Apapa, completing the project in April doesn’t seem feasible, especially the extension of the rail line to the seaport. We’ll, however, continue to work and redouble our efforts to complete the project and meet set targets. #LagosIbadanRail,” he tweeted in January 2020.
The Minister at the CBN roundtable also lamented that Nigerians have politicised noting that, “everybody wants a railway in his village without bothering to ask, what is the relevance of railway in my village?”
Coronavirus, A Global Risk?
The World Health Organization in February raised its global risk assessment of the new coronavirus to its highest level after the epidemic spread to sub-Saharan Africa and financial markets slumped.
The virus has proliferated around the globe emerging on every continent except Antarctica, prompting many governments and businesses to try to stop people from traveling or gathering in crowded places.
It has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 84,000 worldwide — the vast majority in China — since it emerged apparently from an animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Gbenga Ashafa, has hailed the commencement of the new Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project, while affirming that it is a fulfilment of one of the promises of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the electorate.
Senator Ashafa said this on Tuesday at the ground-breaking ceremony of the project in Lagos State, southwest Nigeria.
“One major aspect of this project is generation of employment.
“At least 250,000 jobs will be created through this project and people will be employed directly for the construction of the railway project.
“The project will bring a positive change to the economy of the people and traders will also benefit in the development,” he said.
The lawmaker hinted that the Lagos to Kano and Calabar rail projects are also priorities of the present government, saying their approval is being debated at the Senate.
On his part, the APC National Chairman, John Oyegun, stated his optimism that the Lagos–Ibadan rail project would hasten development through creation of jobs and economic growth.
“The rail project is going to professionalise transportation and save the country from constant road repairs.
“The project will advance the transportation system in the country,” he said.
The rail project was awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation by the Federal Government at the cost of 1.5 billion dollars (about 458 billion Naira).