To build railway varsity on Lagos – Calabar line
By Favour Nnabugwu
Abuja—The Federal Government yesterday assured Nigerians that the over N200billion Abuja-Kaduna rail line would be ready for test-run by March 31, 2016.
The rail line is also expected to be flagged off by President Muhammadu Buhari in May.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, who made this known during an inspection tour of the 186-kilometre standard gauge rail line from Abuja (Idu train Station) to Kaduna, pledged to ensure the completion of the rail line by engaging all parties to the agreement to ensure speedy completion of the project.
“The essence of taking this tour to enable us assess whether we are ready for commercial activities and I think we are. And we think that by March we should the test run of the rail services and we think it should be free for those who will run between March and April.”
“We expect that the President will kindly accept to flag off of the commercial activities of this rail by May this year so as to ensure that those who want to go to Kaduna by rail can actually use our services to Kaduna,” he said.
He said the federal government had to include fencing of the rail line from Abuja-Kaduna, adding that increased the initial sum total of $849,750,903.00 (N170 billion) to over $billion (N200billion)
Lifts for disabled persons
The Minister promised to provide lifts for disabled persons, saying “we just told CCECC to provide lifts in all the stations so that the disabled can access the platforms.”
It will be recalled that former President Goodluck Jonathan secured about $900,000,000.00 from China Export and Import Bank, through the Federal Ministry of Transportation, with the active support of the then Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
The Minister also declined to dabble into what led to the delay by the past administration.
He said: “I don’t want to be part of those who will join issues with the past government; they came, they made their contributions and they have gone. It is for you to assess me from where I took over from.”
He said because of the two years delay, the present administration would have laid new tracks and align them without wasting time.
The Minister met with the Management of Daughters of Charity, Kubwa, whose hospital building obstructed some sessions of the rail line along Kubwa and promised to meet with all the parties involved, including the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and the contractor on the issue.
“We have agreed already before I came there to pay N362m and give them another plot of land.
Amaechi said: ‘’The only difference that happened today is that we asked CCECC to do social responsibility by helping them to build the affected parts of the hospital and be paid the N362m or pay the compensation to the hospital to build the demolished areas themselves.
‘’We have N120bn but we felt we need more than that though the situation is very bad and the President has taken the railway construction as a priority project. So we have a total of N150bn, N60bn is for the Lagos-Kano rail line.
“We hope that we will commence the Lagos-Kano narrow gauge this year. The N60bn is counterpart funding as our own contribution while the Chinese Exim bank will make their own contribution.
“Another N60bn for the Lagos-Calabar rail line as our own counterpart funding, it is not contract. When the National Assembly engaged me, they look at it as if it was a contract, I said no.
‘’It is our counterpart payment, the contract has been awarded already but not by us. What we are doing in this current government is that we are implementing what we met in office. We are not among those who will introduce our own ideas.
“It was awarded by President Obasanjo and we are flying with it. The Lagos-Calabar was awarded by President Goodluck Jonathan and we are flying with it.”