By Gift Olivia Samuel The Sight News
Following its Commissioning on June 10, 2021 for commercial operations by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Lagos-Ibadan railway line has recorded passenger traffic of 42, 000 in the month of June.
This was disclosed in Lagos on Friday by the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, who pointed out that the number will definitely increase over time.
The Minister who was in Lagos to assess the level of completion of some minor works on the stations, said that most of the stations as well as communications and signalling have been completed but needs to be checked regularly for six months to ensure that they are working efficiently, so as to scale up the number of trips.
According to him, “We came back because by the time we commissioned there were minor things that they needed to complete and we needed to see that they had been completed. Apart from Olodo, most of the stations are completed and they will focus on it. We came to see those things.
“Again, they’ve completed communications and signalling but we need six months to be checking regularly to make sure it is working efficiently, if not, we can’t have 18 or 16 trips a day. To have 16 trips a day, we must ensure that Communications are in perfect condition.
“We just wanted to see how they have been able to conclude the things we wanted them to conclude before scaling up the number of coaches and trains they can put on the track. I have asked NRC to scale up from four to eight trips a day”, he said.
Speaking further on the need to use local Contractors, the Minister urged local Contractors who want to participate in contracts to build capacity.
He, however, took a swipe at local Contractors whom he said cut corners to get contracts, collect the contracts as agents and employ the services of foreign partners to help them execute, adding that he won’t allow that.
He said, “I am among those who would want to support Nigerian Engineers and Contractors and we tried it with consulting Engineers, we opened it up but the highest we got was—somebody gets a company overseas, uses his company name and attaches there. We said okay, you must have done this job for five years, but they took photographs from Google and attached. They don’t qualify for what we need.
“If we go that way, only TEAM will qualify, because they have supervised the Lagos-Ibadan railway project, Warri—Itakpe, and Abuja-Kaduna. So, they are the only company that must have done five years. So you want to bring a Nigerian? tell me, when an accident happens…if the train derails and 50 persons die, you will call Amaechi.
“For me, I love to get in with Nigerians, but they must be qualified. They must meet the requirements as approved by the Directorate of railways”, he pointed out.
On how he has built the capacity of Nigerians to handle railway projects, he said, “We are gradually doing that, those who are in school are in school, those who want to work with us are coming in to work with us, but we cannot give you a life threatening contract.
“If you have the capacity, you will become number one before any foreign company. You will say with five years experience, a contractor in Nigeria will take a photograph of another man’s job and put it as his own. I don’t know if he thinks we are fools. All you need is to google it, and see who owns it.
“How many Nigerians have done project management in railway? None! And they are applying. I am not saying they shouldn’t apply, but we are not doing Joint Venture—where a man— all he wants to be is a commission agent. Show us you have the capacity and equipment and we will choose you. Because honestly, I want Nigerians”, he stated.
He further mandated the Nigerian Railway Corporation to give him a monthly update on the number of passengers moved from Abuja-Kaduna, Itakpe-Warri and Lagos-Ibadan, the amount generated as well as the cost of operations.