By Dirisu Yakubu
Ahead of the commissioning of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has directed the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, to go after vandalizers of rail equipment as well as buyers of same, to stem the tide of the ugly development.
Amaechi who stated this Sunday at Ibadan during his inspection tour of the Lagos-Ibadan rail corridor said sellers and buyers of stolen rail items must be made to face the music because in his word, “when there is no demand, there will be no supply.”
Lamenting the incidences of vandalization of rail facilities along the Warri-Itakpe line recently, the Minister had this to say:
“I don’t know why some Nigerians are like the way they are. I have told the Managing Director of NRC to arrest the buyers of the equipment. It is not enough to arrest the vandals.
“It is likened to those who said why should the National Assembly punish those who pay ransom. That law was first passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly when I was a speaker and the reason is, that, when there is no demand, there will be no supply.
“If we don’t pay ransom, they will be tired and they will stop. The same way, if they don’t buy those metals, nobody will steal them,” Amaechi said.
The Minister tasked the judiciary to come up with strategies aimed at quick dispensation of justice, saying, “We must approach the judiciary to have court that can dispense justice readily so that people are sent to jail early enough to deter others and we will also encourage our governors to create jobs.”
Meanwhile, Amaechi assured Nigerians that the project will be ready for commissioning, in his words, all the 11 stations along the route are 80- 90 per cent completed. The Minister added that in the next two weeks, the projects would have been completed.
“I hope the Office of the President will approve the commissioning day in June. We’re not 100 per cent ready, but we are hoping that by the time they give us a date in the next three weeks, we will be ready.
“We have almost come to the end of construction, there will be a little bit of erection here and there but what started in 2017 or 2018 is coming to a conclusion.
“The Eleven stations are ready, some of the under passes and some of the over passes are also ready,” he noted.
He further assured of the possibility of moving cargo from the seaport and transport same through rail to the end users.
“One thing surely we want to assure Nigerians is the movement of cargo from the seaport. Don’t forget that there are two contracts here: Ebute Meta to Ibadan and from Ebute-Meta to Apapa. You can actually take a train to the seaport, but we want to make sure that we are in position to move cargos from the seaport instead of transporting them a little further to put them on the train,” he added.
Amaechi was accompanied on the tour by top Ministry officials including Dr. Magdalene Ajani, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation and a host of others.