By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
Lagos-Following the regular inspection and monitoring of the ongoing construction works at the Lagos-Ibadan railway, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi has called for the expansion of the Apapa railway station, to accommodate warehouses.
The Minister made the call on Monday, while inspecting the Apapa station, after the 14th project Steering Committee meeting for Lagos-Ibadan Railway Modernization project at Ebute-Metta, Lagos State.
He emphasized that the station at Apapa is not up to the required standard, adding that a bigger station is needed.
In his words, “What we have decided is that, since we own all the properties all to the road, the best thing to do is to terminate the lease, dispossess the land and demolish and expand the station. That way, we can have warehouses, we can also have a better and bigger station that will accommodate more”.
Speaking on maintenance of the trains and tracks, he pointed out that there is need to break Nigerian Railway Corporation into three sections, to control asset maintenance, marketing and operations.
“We are looking at the possibilities of breaking Nigerian Railway Corporation into three and I discussed it with the Managing Director. One that owns the asset, the tracks and is in charge of maintenance of the tracks and all railway assets, and then one that operates.
“So you have the Nigerian Railway Corporation that does the running of passengers, trains and all and then you have the marketing . I cannot confirm that but I have put a team on ground to do a study and get back to me but I think that we need to unlock what we currently have because they seem to be over unbundled” he stated.
Speaking further on the Lagos-Ibadan railway, he said that there has been huge progress in the quality of work with CCECC, adding that work on the Iju to Ibadan section is progressing rapidly.
“The main problem is Apapa, not because there is work going on in Apapa, but because we are going to see the location of the new station in Apapa today. The contract is opening to two phases, the first phase is Ebute-Metta to Ibadan, we believe that they should be able to complete that.
“We also believe that they should be able to complete Apapa to the seaport but even if they don’t complete that, they can go ahead and begin commercial activities from Ebute-Metta to Ibadan which is the original contract actually. It was this government that said that all railways must terminate at seaports, so that one, if they finish it on time, we will go with it” he said.
On the employment of qualified Nigerian engineers to understudy CCECC, he noted that if Nigerians don’t capture the technology, the country would not progress. “What is essential for Nigerians is to understudy the technology and engineering aspect so that we can maintain ours”.
On his part, the Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, (NRC), Engr. Freebon Okhiria, noted that expanding the station will not affect the tracks, adding that the platforms will remain where it is.
“The station will be extended. The Minister is expecting a bigger station where you put your goods. That is what he is saying. I think Nigerians should be happy, I am happy not only because it is happening in my time, but because my children will have a proper rail to ride on” he opined.