By Ignatius Ushie
Hon. Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has confirmed that there is improvement on the standard railway construction on the Ebete-Metta axis in Lagos state.
The minister made this remarks after an inspection on this axis on Friday. This is coming shortly after he had expressed displeasure over the slow pace of work generally, thereby mounting pressure on the contractors (CCECC) to speed up the level of work, and probably deploying more equipment and manpower to fast track the construction and meet up dateline.
Amaechi made the disclosure while responding to questions from journalists on Friday, after he embarked on an emergency inspection tour of the area alongside the Chairman of CCECC Group, Zhao Dialong, who was on a visit to the country for on the spot assessment of the project.
According to him “The last time we were here , I complained about the fact that they were very slow and when their chairman told me that he was coming to visit, I requested that we go to the project site and see how far they have gone. “There is remarkable progress from the day we came till now. If you look at the roof work at the stations they have completed it in just three to four days and If they continue with that kind of speed, we should commence activity on the track in earnest.
“Mind you, if we saw the number of workers that we saw today, we wouldn’t have complained”. He said.
Obviously, the contractors (CCECC), had between last Monday and today redoubled their efforts by engaging more hands to speed up the pace of work on the project and achieve the present level of job completion.
“Going from here to the seaport, you’ll notice that there is a remarkable improvement, this means that something was initially wrong before the arrival of their chairman. I think, I need to meet with their chairman and have a holistic conversation on how to move forward”, adding that though, work was progressing steadily but much was not really happening at the seaport at the moment but that the contractor had assured that work would be intensified from the week ahead.
Earlier, Chairman, CCECC Group, Zhao Dialong said changes in project location affected completion of the stations and tracks, adding, ” We initially designed the projects so that the tracks will be done simultaneously with the stations, we even planned to finish the stations first, but we failed because of changes in location “,he explained.
In a related development, the Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation, Engr. Fidet Okhiria said the delay in the arrival of more coaches was basically that of logistics.
According to him, “it is the same port issue. When we held a meeting with NPA and the Minister spoke with them they came up with drastic solution to ensure that they get material for construction and we have been able to get over that.
“I think in the next one week, the ship carrying the rolling stock will be able to berth. It is not just the railway that makes the economy and we cannot close the port because of our items but we hope by next week, the ship will be able to berth and we will be able to offload. He said.