By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi has urged Engineers to assess the impact of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project on the host communities.
This is as he charged the Engineers to take a study, village by village, to see what impact the rail project must have caused to the communities, vis-a-vis the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
Amaechi, who said this over the weekend while inspecting the stations on the Lagos-Ibadan railway line, said that it is unfair not to listen to the Communities, after they have given their support to the Government.
The Minister noted that the Communities have written to him severally over lack of enough overhead crossing and underpasses, as well as erosion caused by the project, but nothing has been done to their complaints.
According to him, “These communities will write, when they write, I will vet it to the Permanent Secretary, the Permanent Secretary will vet it to the Director rail and I wouldn’t hear about it again.
“We are being unfair to these communities because they gave us all the cooperation we wanted. If these communities have been good to us, why do we want to visit them with what was not there before we came?
“The Engineers should take a study, village by village to see what impact the rail line must have caused to that community, Vis-a-vis our Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)” he stated.
He further said that the 157-kilometer long Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge project which started in March 2017, is coming to an end, noting that there has been huge improvement on the stations, from what he saw in his previous visit.
“A lot of progress has been made, they have done well, they are almost coming to an end. The last time we came, we were literally quarreling with them almost at every station. Apart from Kajola, for now, the only two stations we are not too happy with will be Papalanto and Abeokuta, out of ten or so, you can see huge improvement in the rest stations”, he stated.
For his part, the Chairman, Board of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Alhaji Ibrahim Musa, said that in the course of the project the management of NRC sat with Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) and agreed on areas where overhead crossing and bridges would be constructed, adding that they agreed that some bridges and overhead crossing will be constructed by the Federal Government, while others will be done by state governments.
“For instance, we constructed new two-line bridges at Costain and brought down the old ones to enable us to have access. People are still asking for more, but they will be considered based on merit and the finances available on the ground as it is not every request that can be met”, he said.
Also speaking, the Director of Railway, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Engr. Mohammad Babakobi, said the ministry officials held meetings with transportation ministries of Lagos, Ogun, and Oyo states to ensure a safe corridor for the train.
Babakobi, who said that the ministry had made provisions for a pedestrian crossing to various state ministries, noted that the Federal Ministry cannot provide everything, as the state government will have to support in some places.
Furthermore, the Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation(NRC), Mr Fidet Okhiria, said that arrangements are being made for communities to have pedestrian crossing overhead or underpasses, adding that they will be done gradually as all the roads cannot be closed at once to avoid gridlock.
He also disclosed that the narrow gauge is being vandalised especially in the Middle Belt—Benue and Nasarawa, noting also that vandals are also taking things in Apapa but not as rampant as what is being done in the East and Middle Belt.