The Lagos-Ibadan Standard gauge rail project got a boost as the Federal Government and the Lagos State Government finally agreed to bring down Jibowu and Constain overhead bridges to give way to the rail line.
Disclosing this to journalists on Tuesday in Lagos, the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said he is not satisfied with the pace of work done by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
According to Amaechi, while inspecting sections of work done on the project in Papalanto, Ewekoro area of Ogun State, â€œThatâ€™s why I have told the contractor that I am not accepting the speed at which they are going on the project.
â€œI think that by now, they should have started laying the tracks. Even though I am a layman, not an engineer, but I think that by now, the tracks laying should have commenced. The Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) told me that in one month, they can lay all the tracks, but I want to see them laying the tracks.â€
On challenges facing the project, the Hon. Minister of Transportation explained that the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode has agreed to the demolition of the Jibowu and Costain overhead bridges.
In his words, â€œThere is no way massive construction work can be embarked upon without challenges in different forms and sizes. The difference between this project and others is that we are physically present to witness the challenges. In other project works, you donâ€™t even see the challenges. You just see that the project is completed.
â€œWe donâ€™t even have many challenges over here in Ogun compared to what we have in Lagos. In Lagos, we are dealing with water, drainage, gas, military buildings, and power transmission lines. Here, we are dealing with just gas and maybe a few power transmission lines, and we can manage that.
â€ Yesterday, I was with the Lagos State Governor on a tour, and we have agreed that the two bridges must come down.
â€œOur target is December 2018. Whatever we see on the road to completing the project, we will face.
â€œOn the Jibowu and Costain bridges, we have agreed that there will be arrangement put in place before they will be demolished, and that is the construction of two new bridges. Two new bridges must be constructed before demolishing them so that we donâ€™t create traffic problems in the State.
â€ We are chasing the Chinese to meet the December 2018 target, even though the agreement was for three years, but we need the project before January 2019.â€
On the arrival of new locomotives and coaches, Amaechi revealed that Mr. President will be commissioning two locomotives engines and ten coaches that just arrived the country.
Mr. President will be commissioning two locomotives and ten coaches that just arrived the country in this December. We want to make sure that Nigerians who will be traveling from Kaduna to Abuja will be able to use them,â€ Amaechi stated while fielding questions from journalists.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, after meeting with CCECC representatives, also revealed that there is a likelihood that the $1.5bn Lagos-Ibadan rail project might surpass its estimated budget.
Addressing newsmen, Amaechi explained that due to encumbrances that have confronted the contractor handling the project, there could be an upward adjustment to the $1.5bn budget, if the extra cost spent is well defended by the contractor.
â€œWe have agreed that they (contractor) will start laying the tracks for the project by April, and no longer in December. Hopefully, they should conclude that before December 2018 so that we can commission by January.
â€œAs for the project itself, we still donâ€™t know yet if there will be cost over-run because of all the challenges confronting the contractor on the project.
â€œBut if the contractor presents a credible argument as regards a cost overrun, then we will be compelled to go back to the cabinet and inform that there was a cost overrun due to unexpected encumbrance on the project,â€ Amaechi added.
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