The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has revealed that he would soon be inspecting new coaches and locomotives in China meant for the passengers train service on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line.
Amaechi who disclosed this during the monthly inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project said it is a long term measure to help reduce future upsurge on the available coaches and locomotives.
Speaking on the measures the government is taking in ameliorating passengers upsurge on Abuja-Kaduna railway line, Amaechi said he has directed the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), to move two coaches from Itakpe-Warri to the rail line to reduce pressure which he says is not unconnected to the rampant kidnapping on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway.
He noted that two caoches will be taken from the Itakpe-Warri line which has less passenger movement to ease the long queues experienced at the Abuja-Kaduna line is because the coaches are not enough, adding that people who are standing ought not to stand.
“When we saw the problem in Abuja-Kaduna, today, I told the Managing Director to move two coaches from Itakpe-Warri because there are not too many passengers there because it heads to no where. Until there is a connection between Itakpe to Lokoja and Itakpe to Abuja, the coaches will just be there.
“It will be difficult to manage the standing in Abuja-Kaduna because the upsurge is high, even if you put more coaches”, he said.
“So what we are saying is in the long term is that, we are going to China within 23 to 30 to inspect the new coaches and locomotives we are buying for Lagos -Ibadan.
“We may be under pressure to borrow from Lagos -Ibadan and put on the Kaduna-Abuja, if we do that, that would reduce the pressure , the moment there are more locomotives the pressure would come down,” said Amaechi
Speaking on why pressure is being mounted on CCECC, the Chinese construction company handling the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line project, Amaechi said the project is apolitical, because it essence is to ease the transportation problem of the masses and not to score cheap political points in the 2019 general elections.
“The rush is not because of APC. As a minister, I am Minister of transport for APC and PDP. It was not about APC, I always knew that we would win”.
He emphasized that the project is also an effort towards the decongestion of the Apapa seaport and ease the traffic gridlock in Lagos state, adding that the next line of action after the completion of the Abeokuta-Ibadan axis of the project by December, is to concentrate on Apapa.
“My problem is that there is too much congestion at the seaport, there is gridlock in Lagos. The moment we finish this segment before December, we will have to face Apapa, then nearly all the cargoes will be all on the track, that way we will resolve the gridlock and decongest the seaport, create employment and economic growth which is the target of the government. So it is not about APC”
Amaechi expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of work on kilometer 157.5 of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project which was earlier reviewed and said “the pace of work from kilometre 110 to 121 and 124 to 157 is slow, adding that the contractors have promised to increase their speed which is being stalled by lack of equipment.
He noted that a directive has been given to the contractor to increase work up to Kilometer 121 and 130 before May 8, adding that the stations, signaling and telecommunication will be looked into at the next meeting.
“We have given them a target that by the next inspection which is between the 8 and 9 of May, they should get to kilometre 121 and 130. Also at the next meeting, we need to look at the stations, signaling and telecommunications.
“If we finish the tracks, because we have agreed that the tracks will be finished between May ending and first week of June and there are no stations nor signalling, we will still have to go back to do that” he noted.