The Federal Government yesterday set a new deadline for the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge earlier scheduled to be delivered this month.
At the monthly routine tour of the $1.7 billion project, Transportation minister Rotimi Amaechi said the project must be completed in February, adding that the passenger train must run on the standard gauge tracks same month.
The Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge is a 156-kilometre project with 10 ultra-modern railway stations, bridges, tunnels and culverts.
Speaking after the project’s work flow assessment meeting at Adumbu town, Papalanto in Ogun State, Amaechi said all hands were on deck to ensure that the trains run on the tracks at least from Lagos to Abeokuta, if not Ibadan, by February.
“What we agreed on at this meeting is that by February, we must have a train service that makes transport sense. We would ensure that we have a situation where people can board our train from Lagos to Ibadan,” he said.
To achieve this, the minister said the assessment meetings would henceforth be held twice a month, adding that the team would meet again on December 18 to assess the implementation of assignments.
According to him, this pattern will continue until the project is delivered. Amaechi noted that though the elements posed a major challenge earlier in the year, the earthwork and civil engineering works were almost completed.
He added: “We only have one or two bridges left in the entire project and I am very sure that by the time we are having our next meeting, this would have reduced to one, if at all there would still be any left…
“I have just been informed by the contractor that they are facing serious security challenges from armed robbers, who steal their property. I have directed that they tackle that. This is what we have not been experiencing at the Abeokuta to Ibadan end of the project. This obviously also compounds the problem and slows down the pace of work,” he said.
Amaechi said he directed that work be suspended on the stations to concentrate on the tracks because “we are convinced that once we achieve the tracks and begin to run trains on them, getting the stations in place would not be a problem”.
He debunked insinuations that campaign activities may hamper the pace of work.
The minister said his consenting to inspect the project on December 18, when the party would have kick-started its campaigns, showed the commitment of the government.
“President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to building infrastructure. That is what we are also committed to actualizing. Nothing will stop this project as we are committed to having a better Nigeria,” he added.
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