PAULETTE ORJIME- Abuja
MINISTER of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has said the inauguration of the University of Transportation in Daura, Kastina state would take place in September.
Amechi stated this on Friday while inspecting the Lagos – Ibadan railway even as he noted that the ministry will also embark on the establishment of a factory in Kajola, Ogun state, which would handle the manufacturing of some of the materials for the construction work.
The Minister, who undertook the working visit barely two days after being sworn in, instructed contractors handling the project to as a matter of urgency speed up the pace of work and get to the sea port so that they could evacuate the goods at the seaport
In the words of the Minister, “Our target is that they should please hurry and get to the sea port so that they can evacuate the goods at the sea port and if we can’t eliminate at least reduce what people refer to as Apapa gridlock and that can only happen when we use the train.
“We have also agreed with them to have between September and October for two major ground breaking ceremonies. One, the University of Transportation at Daura and then a ground breaking ceremony at Kajola.”
Amechi added,“We are insisting that they cannot continue to manufacture coaches, Locomotives and wagon in China and selling to us. So, as part of the benefits we will get out of the contract we have given them is that they will build a factory in Kajola.
“For now, they will begin to manufacture wagons but they will progress from wagon to coaches and locomotives and Nigerians will understudy them.”
The Minister reiterated that the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to ensure the development of a standard rail infrastructure in line with the best practices.
Amechi also said there are extra works that need to be done and there should be the provision of under passes and overpasses for free movement of vehicles crosses within Lagos metropolis. “There are about sixteen crisscross and with the Lagos traffic, if all these works are not carried out, a lot of accidents will occur and people will die. We don’t want this to happen. ”
“There is no variation, what we said is that there is extra work because, if you go to Lagos either people will die because, there is a narrow gauge train and this new project is a speed train between 120km/hour.
“So, those crosses you see, if you do not create avenue for busses to cross, you either block Lagos completely and there will be traffic madness or you create passes. These would cost money. So we need money and we have to go and get approval from the government.
“During the last inspection tour of the project on the 10th of May, which was few weeks to the end of the former dispensation, we announced that the track laying on Lagos-Ibadan rail line would be completed by the end of May ahead of its scheduled three years completion date. But, because of these extra works, it’s what is slowing down the contractor,” the Minister said.
Amechi therefore, called for synergy between contractors to work effectively and ensure the speedy completion of the project .
The 157km Lagos Ibadan rail project was awarded in 2017 to the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company, CCECC to the tune of $1.6billion with a three years completion agreement.
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