By Ignatius Ushie
Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, has given a marching order to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) to complete the Ebutta-Metta end of the Lagos-Ibadan rail track.
The Minister who gave the order while on inspection of the project earlier in the week, said the completion of the Iju to Ebutta Metta end which remains just 19 kilo meter of rail track is all that is required to enable Nigerians enjoy train services between Lagos and Ibadan before the Christmas.
According to him, a test run of train services will commence 30th November, 2019, adding that Nigerians would enjoy free ride for complete one month, while more coaches are expected in few weeks time.
Ameachi however, urged CCECC not to allow pressures from him to compromise on the quality and standard of the project, noting that as he urged the company to work day and night to also complete minor stations along the rail corridor.
He frowned at the CCECC’s penchant to always wanting to bring almost every material from China, stressing that the main reason the project was started was to grow the local economy.
He further charged the company to ensure prompt completion of Kajola factory where wagons and other materials would be manufactured.
According to him “the reason why we took this loan is to grow the local economy. Now, you bring doors from China, windows from China, roofing sheet from China, if we are not careful you will bring sand from China. Maybe Chinese sand is better than Nigerian sand”.
He directed the Managing Director of NRC to follow up and ensure the next meeting holds in a complete and more conducive environment.
“Director Railway, and Managing Director NRC, take note, next meeting Monday 25, 2019, will hold here not under this situation but in a completed environment. I not going to hold meeting here, I will look at all other minor stations by that same 25 November. He said.
“We have agreed here that minor stations should be completed. We have planned it this way, we do our inspection on November 25, it means that December inspection will be around 30, and by which time the other coaches would have arrived” he added.
Responding on Kajola factory, he said: “In signing the agreement between Nigeria and the Chinese company, we agreed with them that they should produce most of the materials they need locally and they said it would be a bit difficult for them. So we reached an agreement that they should start assembling wagons. Five years after that, they should start producing wagons and assembling coaches and locomotives and ten years after that, they should start producing locomotives and coaches here. Their argument is that if they produce, we will buy from them instead of buying from outside and I told them that we will enter into agreement to buy from them. That way, we will be able to pay naira and save the scarce dollars that we have”.
In his response, A representative of CCECC, identified simply as Mr. Chan blamed the Lagos traffic and incessant rainfall as cause of delay in the project, but assured the Minister that the project would be completed in record time once the rains subsides, adding that plans are underway to use locally manufactured materials in order to fast track the project.