- Says project won’t be abandoned if he leaves as minister
By Odimmegwa Johnpeter/Abuja
The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday, disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari, would take a presidential ride on the Lagos–Ibadan rail line by the end of May, 2019.
Amaechi made the disclosure at Ibadan, during the month end meeting of the Lagos-Ibadan Railway Project Monitoring Steering Committee/ Inspection tour of the rail line.
This was as he assured Nigerians that the Lagos-Ibadan railway project would never be abandoned by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration, having been voted back to power for another four years in the last general elections.
The Minister noted that, the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) handling the project, would do track laying on the rail line up to kilometer 98 while completion of track laying to Ibadan would be achieved by the end of May, to pave way for the proposed presidential ride.
His words: “in one week time, they will lay the tracks up to kilometer 98. The Presidential ride will take place by the end of May. But it is not just a ride; we are saying that by the end of May they should have finished laying the double tracks, which means that you can take a trip from Lagos to Ibadan station. Then what will be faced is the construction of stations and communication system.
“Thank God that we have won the election, and having won the election, it means that the same government that started the project will finish the project. So, the project will not be abandoned. Even if you change the Minister, it is the same government.
Amaechi, who was accompanied on the monitoring exercise by the Ghanaian Minister of Railways Development, Mr. Joe Ghartey and his team and the members of the Senate Committee on Land Transport, explained that Ghana would start similar railway project soon, and therefore, sent the Minister and others to come and see how the project was being done in Nigeria.
He said: “the Minister of Railways Development, Ghana, Mr. Joe Ghartey and his team are on this inspection team to see how we are going about it because in two to three months’ time they want to start their own project; and they want to see how we are supervising them so that they know what to do.
“This is because it is the same contractor, the CCECC, which is handling our own project that is going to handle their own. It is the same consulting engineer that supervises what they do”.
On the Lagos-Calabar rail project, Amaechi hinted that it was awarded by President Goodluck Jonathan but noted that lack of fund had not allowed the present administration to start it, saying that as soon as fund was secured for the project, it would take off.
He said that, as an indigene of Niger Delta region, he was emotionally attached to the rail project, pointing out that President Buhari had directed the Ministry of Transport to interconnect the whole country by rail.
“Lagos-Calabar rail project has been awarded but we are looking for money. I tell people that I come from the South South and I am emotionally attached to that project. It is unfortunate that we have not gotten money to start that project which was awarded under President Goodluck Jonathan.
“The Lagos-Ibadan was awarded under President Obasanjo. The directive of President Muhammadu Buhari is that we should do everything possible to get the inter-connectivity of the entire country.
“Those who are criticizing President Buhari today should know that there was a time we had money in this country and we were all enjoying the money by way of corruption. So, it’s a little difficult but we are trying to meet the challenges we are facing according to the directive of Mr. President but Nigerians should know that these challenges are only resolved by funds and these funds are not readily available”, he said.
Earlier, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, commended the efforts of the Minister and the government in general, saying that the rail project had generated about ten thousand jobs for Nigerians as well as increased commercial activities along Lagos-Ibadan axis.
“The rail project has facilitated increase in commercial activities. It has also brought about huge employments for Nigerians. The partnering contractor and the Nigerian Railway Corporation have employed close to 10,000 Nigerians. So, employment has risen and unemployment has come down”, he said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Railways Development, Ghana, Mr. Ghartey, commended Amaechi for the commitment given to the rail project, describing it as impressive, and boasting that he was going to surpass Amaechi in the proposed rail project in Ghana.
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