The joint Senate Committee on Land transport and the House Committee on Land transport has cast doubt on the December 2018 deadline of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard gauge rail project.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government, during its monthly inspection exercise of the project last month, said the December deadline is not negotiable.
However, addressing journalists on Thursday after a joint committee inspection of the project, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on land transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa revealed that the contractor has asked for an extension of the project timeline.
According to Gbenga Ashafa, “After all said and done, after the inspection today, I can say categorically that the December 2018 deadline won’t be a reality. This is understandable giving the quality of job that is being done.
” I have been told that the contractor handling the project, the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) has made a request that the deadline of the project be extended to around the middle of 2019.
“To me, if the Lagos to Abeokuta leg of the project is fully completed by February or March 2019, then it would be a laudable feat.
“Let us not forget that this is a legacy project that all Nigerians should be proud of. The standard gauge is a step up from the narrow gauge which Nigeria has been operating for years.
” I am very happy that the Lagos State Government headed by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is working in tandem with the Federal Government on this project. At the Lagos end of the project, the State government is working closely with the Federal Government to ensure all problems there are resolved.
“As somebody that came from the Lagos East senatorial zone, where we have export processing zones both on the Federal Government side and the Lagos State side, this standard gauge rail project will be of immense benefit to this export processing zones.
“We should not forget that the Apapa Port too is in Lagos, and will also benefit from this rail project.”
However, in a separate chat with journalists, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Engineer Fidet Okhiria explained that the December 2018 deadline remains intact.
In his words, “the contractor has been asking for an extension, but we have not agreed. The December deadline remains unchanged.
“Although we know there are challenges in allocating the Abeokuta stations. They also have challenges with underground pipeline and gas pipeline within Lagos, but engineering solutions have been found. The cost of the solution is being worked out for now.”