The Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has apologized to Nigerians over the recent failure of locomotives on the Abuja – Kaduna rail corridor.
The Minister who made this known during the monthly inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project in company of members of the Joint House Committees on Land and Marine Transport (Ports and Harbour, Inland Waterways and Marine Safety and Education), observed that it is worrisome that brand new locomotives should start developing problems within a short span of usage adding that he will dialogue with the Chinese company towards having them recall the locomotives as he believes what they ordered for does not tally with recent incidences.
He added that the locomotives are under warranty and “we have called the Chinese to come back for the locomotives that are bad or have failed.”
While expressing displeasure over the poor performances of the locomotives, Amaechi assured Nigerians that engineers were on top of the situation to forestall future occurrences.
On the on-going construction of the Lagos-Ibadan railway standard gauge, the Minister charged Messrs China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) to speed up action as, according to him, the stations must start operations in December and must be commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2021.
On the Kano –Maradi, Niger Republic rail line, the Minister disclosed that the positives far outweigh the negatives as apart from the rail corridor creating employment, the project on completion, would make Nigeria a destination choice of export for Niger Republic’s goods being that the country is a landlocked nation.
According to him, a direct linkage from Maradi through Kano to Lagos will facilitate trade as well as attract more businesses to Nigeria.
Reacting to questions on the coastal rail line, Amaechi said that the project has been approved by the Federal Executive Council but paucity of funds is delaying its take-off. On completion of the Apapa axis of the rail line, the Minister said NNPC pipes at Ijora is constituting a problem.
“We are talking with NNPC; they need to move the pipelines. When they move the pipelines, we will continue with the construction. We reported this case four months ago to the NNPC and they have not responded”.
The Senate Committee Chairman on Land and Marine Transport, Abdulfatai Buhari, on behalf of his colleagues expressed satisfaction with the level of work done.
He said the loans which the Senate gave approval is being justified based on what has been achieved and the derivatives it portends for Nigerians on completion.
Asked about his impression on the project, the Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Benjamin Akabueze, stated that “until we have a functional system both for moving freight as well as passengers, we will be constraining the capacity of the economy to unlock its potential.”
He further explained that monies spent on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail “are well within budget provisions and incidences of overspending is countered through the ‘Annual File Implementation Report’ submitted to the Budget Office”.
Also speaking, on board the train, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, acknowledged the significant improvement on the pace of work achieved since the last inspection in October, noting that on completion, the journey from Lagos to Ibadan will be under one and half hours.
Other dignitaries on the inspection tour included: The Chairman of Board, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Engr. Ibrahim Alhassan Musa, Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Engr. Fidet Okhiria, among others.