By David Adekunle and Shiktra Shalangwa, Ibadan
The completion of the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan standard guage rail project which began a year ago has been scheduled for May, 2019.
Nigeria’s Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi and Ghana Minister of Railway Development, Joe Ghartey lauded the ongoing construction project.
The two Ministers alongside the National Assembly Commitee on land transport expressed satisfactions after official inspection of the project in Ibadan, the Oyo State Capital.
The Ghanaian minister who commended the level of the work done so far appreciated Mr Amaechi on his routine monitoring and inspection of the project.
“This is about one year, you will agree with me that it is not usual that you have a project of this magnitude being ahead of schedule, how has he done it?
“He has done it by being hard working, he would have sent someone to bring reports but he is coming here following and pushing, I think it is very impressive, upon completion, the project would ease the transportation means in Nigeria,” he said.
Mr Ghartey said that the standard gauge project would make goods and services cheaper as result of easy movement of goods and people around.
He said that the project would boost the economy in a manner the citizens could not even imagine.
“Very soon people would be buying land here because of the nearness to easy means of transportation, I am very impress about the project,” he added.
Expressing pleasure on the level of work done so far by the contractor, Mr Amaechi said that water level at various river points have posed a challenge to the project.
He stated that the contractor was working effectively to deal with the challenges before the Rainy season.
“The contractor has to find solution to the Challenge now before the rain because if the rain start now, the water level will be higher which will pose a great challenge to the work.
“The track laying has been done up to kilometer 95 and they have done their sub-grade up to kilometer 98 and in a week time the track laying will cover the kilometer 98 towards Ibadan from Abeokuta,” the minister said.
According to him, the track laying will be completed before May this year and President Muhammadu Buhari might have a train ride from Lagos to Ibadan.
“This is just a ride that will take place by the end of May by the president, from Lagos to Ibadan…You see its just beyond having a ride, because we have said by the end of May they should have finished the laying of tracks, that is, the double tracks.
“But that is not enough, they have to deal with the stations, communication and others before that could take place,” he added.
In the same vein, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Gbenga Ashafa said the project would not fail because of the re-election of President Buhari.
Mr Ashafa explained that the president would ensure continuity of the project for the benefit of the citizens.
“This inspection is a visit of all the stakeholders involved in the rail project…The minister invited us for the oversight function and the progress that has been made on the project.
“The project will add value to the economic activities, create employment of thousands of people, so the project cannot fail,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello reiterated that there would be opportunities for job creation upon the completion of the project.
”The cost of transportation would from the ports to their residence reduce drastically and trucks is the only methods we have now and once the rail commences there would be competition and the laws of demand and supply would apply…Even more importantly, the security and safety of the cargo, there would be delivery of cargo in such a smooth way. 90% of the cargo comes through the roads which is only one mode.
“Now we have a cheaper mode, and we are also talking of the inland water mode, so when we have three modes . Nigeria would never be the same again with this project,” Mr Bello explained.
The inspection which commenced from ongoing construction of Ebute Metta Ultra Modern Station in Lagos passes through Kajola, Ifo, Papalanto, Itori, Abeokuta in Ogun State terminated at Ibadan in Oyo State.