N458bn Lagos-Ibadan Rail Project Ready in December 2018 – Osinbajo

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Oluwatosin Lamidi

The Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has disclosed that N458 billion Lagos-Ibadan rail project would be ready for commissioning by December 2018.

Osinbajo made this known on Tuesday at ground breaking ceremony of the Segment II Lagos-Ibadan Rail Project with extension to Lagos Port Complex, Apapa, held at Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) compound, Ebute-metta, Lagos.

He said the ceremony marked commencement of government’s plan to move speedily to improve transport links with Lagos, the national economic nerve centre and major port to other state capital across the country.

According to him, the Federal Government was committed to delivering a fast and efficient rail service system between Lagos and Ibadan within a projected time frame of December 2018.

“An active and vibrant railway system confers many benefits on the society. Our ultimate goal is to restore a railway using culture for both commercial and personal transportation. We are confident that the national rail project will create up to half a million jobs and facilitate the movement of up to 3.2 million tonnes of cargo per annum.

“It will also reduce the burden on national high ways, thus reducing deterioration of the road networks and increasing the life span of our roads. Railway network will support efforts to diversify the economy and enhance our export potentials. Just as several of our cities became known as railway towns in the past we expect to boost economic activities within the railway lines that will eventually cut across the entire country,” Osinbajo said.

Earlier, Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, in his address, said that the proposed extension of the Lagos-Ibadan Rail Project would go a long way to open up the economy of the South West region as well as facilitate regional integration and growth, adding that the project also marked a new dawn in the transformation of the nation’s transport infrastructure, especially for the South West region.

Expressing delight that the take-off had become a reality, the Governor  said: “A direct benefit of this project is that containers and goods from the Apapa Port will now be transported by rail thereby reducing the number of trailers and other heavy duty vehicles on our roads.

“A direct consequence of this project would be less productive man hours wasted on the roads due to traffic gridlock and bad roads due to heavy duty vehicles. In addition, we expect government to expend fewer resources on road repair and maintenance once the rail line takes off and reduce the pressure of articulated vehicles on our roads.”

According to him, aside boosting regional integration, the agricultural sector would receive the long awaited boost as the rail line will be a fast and convenient means of transporting farm produce from the hinterland to the city thereby increasing the economies of the States.

While thanking President Buhari for approving the Right of Way for the proposed Red Line Light Rail Project by his administration, Ambode also appealed to NRC to cooperate with the State Government during the construction of the Red Line.

“We thank the Federal Government of Nigeria under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari for prioritizing this landmark project which will greatly complement our efforts to deliver a transport system that is befitting of a modern city state. It is also important to note that the Lagos Red Line rail will share the same corridor and Right Of Way with the Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan Rail Line.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, in his address, said on assumption of office, President Buhari prioritised the completion of rail projects across the country and challenged the Ministry to hit the ground running to ensure that the project is delivered in record time.

Dignitaries present at the ceremony include the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, his Oyo State counterpart, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Senate Chief Whip, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, members of the Federal Executive Council, members of the State Executive Council, members of the Diplomatic Corps, traditional rulers, stakeholders in the transport industry, among others.

The project awarded to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, is being jointly funded by the Nigerian and Chinese governments. The new Lagos-Ibadan rail, spanning 156.65 kilometres, is a double line, which is the first phase of a new Lagos-Kano standard gauge line.The new line, when completed would coexist with the old narrow gauge rail line.

The contract for the 2,733km new Lagos-Kano rail was first awarded by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006 at a cost of $8.3bn to the Chinese company (CCECC) but could not be executed due to paucity of funds. It was re-awarded to the same contractor by the Goodluck Jonathan administration in 2012 for execution in six phases, starting with the Lagos-Ibadan stretch.

 

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