….To create 500, 000 jobs
By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Yinka Kolawole & Monsur Olowoopejo
lagos—Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, said that construction work on the Lagos-Ibadan segment of the Kano rail project will be completed by December 2018.
This came as Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, urged the Federal Government to assist the state in the construction of Lagos Lite-Rail Red Line expected to link the state with Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The actual commencement of work on the Lagos-Ibadan project is slated for next June.
Osinbajo and Ambode spoke at the ground breaking ceremony of the segment II, Lagos-Ibadan, of the Kano standard gauge rail project to be extended to Apapa port complex, held at the Nigerian Railway Corporation compound, Ebute-Metta.
The event was also attended by Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, his Ogun State counterpart, Ibikunle Amosun, among others.
Osinbajo, who added that 500, 000 jobs would be created through an integrated national rail project that will at completion facilitate the movement of over 3.2 million tons of cargo across the country every year.
According to him, President Buhari, during his visit to China in January last year, reopened negotiation on the Chinese support for the project under the Lagos-Kano modernization project.
According to Osinbajo, the Federal Government was committed in the interim to delivering a fast and efficient rail service system between Lagos and Ibadan within a projected time frame lasting till December 2018.
On job creation
Osinbajo also noted that the federal government is targeting the replacement of the 1955 Railway Act with the legal framework that will open railway projects in the country to greater private sector participation.
He said government is already working towards having a railway system that is viable, self-sustaining and self-improving, adding that it should be one that is not reliant on government funding.
According to the Acting President; ‘’It is important however to have a viable, self-sustaining and self-improving railway system. It should be one that is not reliant on government funding which may not be available at all times.
“It should also be one that can be upgraded and improved over time and not left to decay due to mismanagement or lack of attention. This is why the federal government supports the replacement of the 1955 Railway Act with the legal framework that opens railway projects in the country to greater private sector participation.
“In this way, we expect to ensure the resources and management to run efficient, modern and reliable train services.
“We have the entire Lagos-Kano standard gauge tracks and the Lagos-Calabar railway track in the 2017 budget. Negotiation on the Kaduna-Kano portion of the track is now completed and this phase is next in line.
“We have already provided our portion of funding for the Lagos-Calabar route as well and we expect that negotiations on the foreign component of the funding would be finalized within the next three months and that and the Lagos-Calabar projects as well will come on stream.
“An active and vibrant railway system confers many benefits on society and our ultimate goal is to restore a railway-using culture for both commercial and personal transportation.
Ambode says project will boost economy
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.
He said the project also marks 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 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.
Earlier, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said on assumption of office, President Muhammadu 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 on time.
Cleric prescribes prayers for nation’s woes
By Prince Okafor
Founder and General Overseer of Christ Apostolic Miracle Ministry Worldwide, Apostle Paul Okikijesu has warned that if Nigeria is not prayerful, it could be plagued with fire and flood.
Briefing newsmen in Lagos at the launch of his book, he accused the current leadership in the country of abandoning the poor.
Quoting from the book entitled: Prophecy to the Nations of the World and Prophecy Declaration, he said: “If Nigeria is not watchful and prayerful, she will be plague with fire and flood with ground that will afflict the nation. Buildings will crumble and bridges will collapse this year due to severe climate condition. The masses will turn against the leaders and the celebrities to the extent that many rich and wealthy people will donate their properties in order to pacify and receive the favour from the masses.