By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
IBADAN-As work progress on the Lagos-Ibadan railway project, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, has insisted, that an efficient rail line is the solution to the Lagos seaport logjam.
This is just as he noted, that the narrow gauge at the seaport is inefficient, adding however, that when the rail line is fixed, goods will be transferred to the rail and the logjam will disappear.
The Minister, who made these disclosures on Thursday at the January 2019 inspection tour of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line, disclosed that there is a level of improvement from Abeokuta to Iju axis of the line, adding that the next level of action will be to extend the rail line from Iju to the seaport.
According to him, “Most of the solutions to Lagos seaports is an efficient rail line-the narrow gauge is there but it is not efficient. We need to push this work and once they get to Iju, the next pressure I will put on them is to go from Iju to the seaport.
“The moment they can do from Iju to the seaport, then most of those goods, especially the ones going to Ibadan, will be on the rail”, he said.
Speaking on the slow pace of work, he remarked, that though there is an improvement getting to Abeokuta from Lagos, there is however civil works problem between Agbado and Iju which he said is critical to the work.
“Getting to Abeokuta, you will see that there is an improvement, the problem they(the contractor) have now is the civil works between Agbado and Iju which is critical to me because I don’t think passengers should go to Agbado to pick the train.
“I believe that the closer we are to Lagos, the better for the rail, that is what we are battling now. There is a huge improvement”, he stated.
While speaking on some limitations to the work, he noted that employing more hands is not the problem, rather equipment for the more hands to use is.
“What you saw from Agbado to Iju is not a matter of more hands, it is a matter of equipment and they are saying the equipment is not an off-the-shelf equipment, so if you wait for those equipment by the time it arrives, they would have probably finished the job”, Amaechi disclosed.
Reacting to the issue of deadline, he pointed out that, there is a huge improvement compared to the last visit, adding that bridges have been built in kilometers 76 and 77 and also tracks have been taken up to channel 76 with hopes of getting to channel 79 in the next two weeks.
“There is an improvement, but I don’t tell them. For me, like I tell them, Nigerians don’t want to know how you achieve the rail to Abeokuta, what they want to know is that they enter a train from Lagos and they come to Abeokuta” , the minister said. “That is why you are hired and paid salaries and you cannot go and tell Nigerians, ‘I am trying o, it is not easy'”.
On the arrival of coaches, he said: “We are expecting 30 passenger coaches mixed with locomotive wagons, 300 wagons and two sets of DMU made up of ten coaches each and two motorcades will arrive Lagos before the construction work is completed.
Also speaking on the Itakpe- Warri rail line, which is currently being test ran, he announced that the test running will continue until May 2019, after which commercial activities will kick-off.