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Amaechi meets with NPA, CCECC to resolve issues stagnating progress of rail project at Apapa Port

The Honourable Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, flanked on his right by the Oyo State Governor, Mr. Seyi Makinde, and to the minister’s left is the Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemi Saraki, followed by the Managing Director of the NRC, Engr. Fedet Okhiria during the inspection tour of the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge project.

The Honourable Minister of
Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, would be meeting with the Management of the
Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation
(CCECC) by Friday, to address all issues stagnating the progress of the
Lagos-Ibadan Rail project at the seaport end.

Amaechi disclosed this on Monday in
Apapa during his monthly inspection tour of the railway project after seeing
that there had not been any significant progress of work from the Ebute Meta to
Apapa Port area of the standard gauge project.

The Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Oyo State Governor, Seyi Makinde during the inspection tour of the Lagos-Ibadan Rail project

Recall that the minister had in
December 2019 said that the project should be completed by April 2020.

After the inspection tour of the
project from Lagos to Ibadan, Amaechi told newsmen that the progress of the
project was a mixed-bag as there was significant progress of work done in some
stations, while others had not.

“It is a mixed bag, talking of
the progress of the work.  In some
stations, you were impressed and others you were not. At least, you were
impressed with Omi-Adio. 

The last time we came here, we had to suspend work
because they were using what they referred to as stone dust.  Now, that has changed.  Not much happened at Abeaokuta station. 

“The worst was from Ebute Meta to
Apapa. That is painful.  That will be the
focus henceforth.  All sorts of excuses.  I have asked to meet with the Management of
NPA on Thursday or Friday to resolve those issues.

“Again, the second excuse they
have is that of their vessels at the seaport. They say they can’t even berth,
because of the long queue and the crisis of congestion.  So, we will address it when we meet with NPA,
to see how they can come forward, because we really need to complete this work
as soon as possible,” the honourable minister said.

Speaking on the completion time
for the project, the minister said:
“When you ask the contractors, they
still tell you the April/May period for completion is real, but I can’t answer
that question considering what we are seeing.
Let me not continue to give you date, then getting to that date, we are
not there.

“They are being political. When
you ask when the stations will be completed, they say “Minor stations
April, they won’t talk about major stations. For the level of work done, in
terms of tracks, I will say 100 per cent, apart from Ebute Meta.

On her part, the Minister of
State for Transportation, Senator Gbemi Saraki, highlighted a significant part
of the project with regards to local content inclusion as good number of
Nigerian engineers are on the project.  

Speaking on the economic importance
of the rail project to Oyo State, Gov. Seyi Makinde, who was on the inspection
tour with the minister, praised the level of work already done and added that
it was awakening for his State , to embark on other supporting projects.

Makinde said: “For me personally,
it is a wake-up call for us in Ibadan, because the track is already here. So, we
need to brace up to be able to meet up with what we have to do, so that the
handshake is seen less and the benefit can get to our people.

“The rail will bring you closer
to our people and you will start spending some of your money in Ibadan.  You will stay in our hotels, you won’t only
come here for weekend. You can actually do your work in Lagos and come back to
Ibadan, send your children to school in Ibadan.
“So, we know precisely what we
have to do, to help Lagos decongest and harvest all those good, so we can also
improve our own economy and then set a target on how to get out of Lagos
The Governor said that Oyo State
would take advantage of the rail project to boost manufacturing and trade
generally, saying: “We have to key into the programme that is being followed,
such that if we need to construct roads to fit into this, and the need to look
at the security aspect.
“When the users of the facility
alight from the train, they should be able to say we are also in a safe and
secure place. Those things need to be put in place. We want to be sure that
happens before they begin to use this facility.”
Gov. Makinde gave assurance that
such project would not face challenges in Oyo since it is a Greenfield, unlike
in Lagos, a highly metropolitan city where a number of demolitions were done to
give room for the rail project.

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