By Gift Olivia Samuel The Sight News
Ahead of the Christmas celebrations in December, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, has disclosed plans to flag off free train ride on the Lagos-Ibadan railway.
Amaechi, who made this known in Lagos on Monday, said the train ride is expected to kick off by November 30, 2019, even as the minor stations are expected to be completed.
The Minister in a meeting with the contractors, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), insisted that the ride will begin from Ebute Metta and terminate at Ibadan.
According to him, “By November 25, two significant things should happen. One, all minor stations should be ready and two, one track must get to Ebute Metta.
“I will flag off free train ride by November 30th, so that both Christians and Muslims that will want to celebrate Christmas in Ibadan can do it free of charge. The two executive coaches available will be used for trial run on November 30 while we wait for the other coaches.
“We must start commercial run from Ebute Metta, whether there is rain or not, one track should get to Ebute Metta if the two can’t go. I won’t take off from Ikeja, I will start from Ebute Metta”, he said.
Amaechi, also revealed that more coaches are expected in before Christmas, adding that he will ensure its made possible but if not, the available Executive coaches which have capacity of 48 people will be used.
He stated that they will insist on 24 passengers on each coach, making it 48 for the two and standing will not be allowed, adding that insecurity is the major reason standing was allowed on the Abuja-Kaduna railway.
In his words, “Once we get the next 10 coaches we are sending to Kaduna, the situation where passengers stand inside our coaches will be reduced. Although it will not solve the problem of addressing the 3,700 passengers but at least it will reduce who stands.
“The actual number of passengers which that service can take or the sitting capacity is about 1,000 plus but we are carrying 3,700 daily. So if you add 10 coaches of 84 passengers per coach you will know that we are under pressure.
“But we know that when the coaches come and we make it more regular the pressure will be reduced”, he stated.
Speaking on the eight (8) minor stations and four major stations, he said, that it was good CCECC had changed all their policies of bringing materials from China. “They are ready to work but they are waiting for materials from China but they have said that all materials will be gotten locally. Why do they have to import doors, windows from China?”
Meanwhile, Amaechi while speaking on the expected assembling factory in Kajola, hinted that there will be a ground breaking ceremony at the site of the factory, come November 8, adding that Nigeria had an agreement with China to manufacture materials locally.
“We are not contributing anything to the establishment of the factory and the transport university. It is their own investment. The assembling company, I must state belongs to the Chinese.
“The most important thing is that it creates employment and improves the economy which is our target at the end of the day”, he remarked.
He urged the contractors to maintain standard and quality of the work, despite the pressure from the ministry.
Responding, the Deputy Project Manager CCECC Railway Project Xia LiJun noted that his team will try to achieve the commercial service by November 30, stressing that the constant rainfall is posing a challenge to the work.