LAGOS: President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday commissioned the 157km Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway project for commercial operations.
The President at the commissioning which took place at the Mobolaji Johnson Railway Station, Ebute Metta, said the Lagos-Ibadan railway was an important rail corridor that would drive the economy of many states.
He further said that the feat is as another milestone in the drive of this Administration to revitalize the railway system and establish it as a choice mode of transportation for both passengers and freight.
According to him, “This vital line establishes an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos – Ibadan, as goods to the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa port Quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country”.
He pledged that his administration would continue to prioritise the railway system as a transportation backbone that can transform industrial and economic activity in the country.
In his words, “In clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by absence of strong and effective infrastructure, we have in the rail sector, further to other ongoing railway infrastructure projects, embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos – Kano railway, which is Ibadan – Kano.
“The Lagos – Kano railway project when completed will link the Kano – Maradi line at Kano and a rail link from the Nigeria southern ports of Lagos to Maradi in Niger Republic will be achieved”.
While noting that the connection through rail would position Nigerian ports as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic, he added that it would be beneficial to the economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation.
“From the beginning of this administration, railway infrastructure development has been given the priority it deserves and various milestones have been reached, right from when the Abuja – Kaduna railway was flagged-off for commercial operation in 2016 to this Lagos – Ibadan railway project being commissioned today for full commercial operation,” he said.
The President commended the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, for his drive and tenacity in achieving the milestone recorded today, and also praised the “wonderful team in the Ministry” for a job well done.
For his part, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi appreciated the Chinese government through the China EXIM bank for the loan that enabled the construction of the rail project.
He said, “We are grateful to God and also the President of the country who had the courage to take the loan that we took from China EXIM bank. As people are here celebrating today, I tell people that this place was a huge forest that we and CCECC had to go through and we have achieved it today.
“The celebration is not enough, it is the impact it would have on the economy; the goods and services, the personnel it would have to move in record time”, he noted.
He further expressed dissatisfaction that the China EXIM bank is yet to approve the loan for Ibadan to Kano, stressing on the need to start and complete that corridor quickly.
“We hope that we will get money to be able to construct from Ibadan to Kano so that we can complete the track and make sure that business takes place. We have about three or four projects. This month, we will start Kano-Kaduna and then we will also start Port Harcourt to Maiduguri which also is CCECC and then Kano-Maradi.
“We got money from China EXIM bank, we paid back. We did put pressure on CCECC and delivered on time. In terms of quality, what we have is good”, he ended.
The occasion brought together very eminent personalities that include Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed; Minister of Youths and Sport Development, Sunday Dare; Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki; the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Others are the Chairman of Governors Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr Kayode Fayemi, Governors of Lagos, Ogun and Oyo States, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Seyi Makinde and Dapo Abiodun.Royal fathers led by the representatives of the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, the Lake of Egbaland, Oba Gbadebo also graced the occasion.