The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, has asked Nigerians to as a matter of priority, learn how to build their own roads and railways; stating that Nigeria cannot continue to depend on other people’s technology.
This is just as he said, that other countries especially China, have developed their own technology and emphasized that the earlier Nigeria learns, the better.
Amaechi, who stated these on Tuesday at the Lagos-Ibadan Railway Inspection with Members of the National Assembly, disclosed that the project from Iju in Lagos, is only six kilometres away from Abeokuta.
He also noted, that the China Civil Engineering Construction Company(CCECC), has given the assurance of a train ride from Iju to Abeokuta at least by the first week in January.
The Minister, pointed out, that work has been slow at the stations, as emphasis has been on the tracks, and urged the construction company to take the work one track at a time.
“We are six kilometres away from Abeokuta, the idea is to bring the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and some Ministers to join in the ride”, he said. ” When we do the ride, we will then allow passengers to the railway up to Abeokuta. Our target is that by the end of the month, we should be to Ibadan by rail and then we can begin to put the pressure on them to build the station”.
While fielding questions from Journalists, he said that 41 kilometres are already on ground and another 14 kilometres is needed to get to Iju.
“We believe that if we sustain the pressure and the Chinese continues to work at the pace with which we are working, we should get to Ibadan at the end of January”, Amaechi remarked. “If we get to Ibadan at the end of January, we will continue to do free train ride from Iju to Ibadan. Before or after elections doesn’t really matter”.
Responding to questions on when the new coaches will be available for the Lagos-Ibadan rail line, he disclosed that eight locomotives and wagons have been released from Ajaokuta and some coaches will be gotten from Itakpe and put temporarily on the track to run free train ride.
According to the Minister, “We need to talk to the President to get more coaches because we need more coaches for Kaduna, and Lagos-Ibadan. We know that there will be pressure on Lagos-Ibadan”.
Speaking on the use of Nigerian Engineers in the project, he remarked that Nigerian Engineers are now on site. “From my Ministry we posted some, we have asked TEAM to employ, Railway has posted some and we have also employed”, he added “The idea is not only to transfer technology, the idea is that when they go, we should be able to run our business ourselves”.
On his part, the Chairman, House Committee on Land Transportation, Abdulmumin Jibrin, expressed satisfaction with the level of work on ground but queried the Minister for under-publicizing it.
“My problem with the Minister is that, what is going on here is under-publicized and I don’t know why he is hoarding it to only himself”, he noted. “If he doesn’t want to tell the President about what is going on, I will personally go and tell the President what is going on”.
He emphasized on the need for Nigerians to know the level of work ongoing, adding that such magnitude of work, naturally would have its challenges and commended the Minister for the work done.
“We will continue to engage from our own side, where we can support the Ministry and the project, to see that everything comes to fruition”, he said.