The Federal Government and the Lagos State Government have agreed to pull down two bridges in Lagos located at Jibowu and Costain as part of efforts to address challenges facing the ongoing construction of a new Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, announced this in Lagos on Tuesday, adding that the worst challenges of the new rail project were located in Lagos State. Amaechi had announced the intention of the contractor, the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, to demolish the two bridges to give way to the new rail line.
Although the minister said new bridges would be immediately constructed, the Lagos State Government had then suggested digging further into the ground to accommodate the new rail track to be laid under the bridges. But the minister, who met with the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said:
“Yesterday (Monday), I was on a tour with the governor of Lagos State and we have agreed that the two bridges will come down.”
Amaechi further stated that the Federal Government had told the contractor to complete the rail project by December 2018 as against the March 31, 2019 initial completion date. The minister disclosed these while inspecting the railway project from Lagos to Ogun states after a meeting of the Project Steering Committee. He said:
“We have a target date but there is no way you can do construction without challenges in different forms and you have to address them. The challenges are not even here (at the Ogun end of the project). The challenges are worse in Lagos. We are dealing with water, drainage, gas, power and the military. Here we are dealing with just gas and maybe a few power transmission lines and we can manage that.”
A notice by the contractor handling the project stated the completion date for the railway is March 2019, but Amaechi told journalists that the government was driving the Chinese firm to get the job done before December 2018. He said:
“We are chasing the Chinese to finish the contract before December 2018. Don’t forget that the contract is for three years.”
The new Lagos-Ibadan railway project, located in the Western part of Nigeria, passes through Abeokuta in Ogun State to Ibadan in Oyo State. The project contractor commenced work on June 1, 2017, and March 31, 2019 was stated as the completion date. Asked if compensation had been paid to affected beneficiaries, the minister stated that there was money and that government was not indebted to anyone.
“I don’t think we owe anybody. Is there anybody that says we owe him? If there is anybody who says we owe him, he should come forward,” Amaechi said.
On the recent arrival of some locomotives and coaches, he noted that the President would inaugurate the facilities this month.
“They include two locomotives and 10 coaches and the President will be launching them this December. We want to be sure that those who are travelling from Kaduna to Abuja are able to use the new coaches and locomotives,” the minister said.
The laying of tracks for the 150 kilometre Lagos- Ibadan rail would commence in April 2018, the minister also said. The minister was accompanied by the Chairman of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Usman Abubakar; and the Managing Director of the NRC, Fidet Okhiria, to inspect the project sites at Ijoko, Itori, Awado and Papalanto all in the Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun State.