By Theodore Opara
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, flagged off the $1.5 billion Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway project with a projection that the project will create wealth and business opportunities.
The Lagos-Ibadan rail is the third to be commissioned by the President in the last five years. The other two were Kaduna-Kano and Itakpe-Warri rail lines.
The 157 kilometers Lagos-Ibadan rail line runs from Apapa Wharf in Lagos, through Ogun State and terminated in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
While inaugurating the rail line, President Muhammadu Buhari described it as another milestone in the drive to establish rail as a choice means of transportation for passengers and freight.
READ ALSO: Buhari arrives Apapa
Shortly after he inaugurated the project, President Buhari took a ride from Ebute Metta Station to Energy Nature Light, ENL, Terminal, Apapa Port, Lagos.
The Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State; governors of Ekiti, Oyo, Ogun and the Deputy Governor of Ondo, the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of State Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, other ministers and government officials joined him in the ride.
On the benefits of the Lagos-Ibadan rail and other ongoing railway projects, President Buhari said Ibadan-Kano project would have a connection to the Tin Can Island port as well as the West-East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.
His words: “From the beginning of this administration, railway infrastructure development has been given the priority it deserves and various milestones have been reached.
“Right from when the Abuja-Kaduna railway was flagged off for commercial operation in 2016 to this Lagos-Ibadan railway project being commissioned today for full commercial operation.”
Buhari commended the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and his team for their drive that led to a job well done.
He added: “This vital line establishes an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos-Ibadan, as goods to the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa Port quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country.
“In clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by absence of strong and effective infrastructure, we have in the rail sector, further to other ongoing railway infrastructure projects, embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos-Kano railway, which is Ibadan-Kano.
“The Lagos-Kano railway project when completed will link the Kano-Maradi line at Kano and a rail link from the Nigeria southern ports of Lagos to Maradi in Niger Republic will be achieved.
“The connection through rail would position Nigerian ports as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic.
“This would be beneficial to the economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation.”
Earlier, Amaechi thanked President Buhari for the courage to take the China loan to execute the rail project.
He also thanked the Chinese government for the loan and expressed optimism that China would approve the loan for the Ibadan-Kano axis. Amaechi recognised the cooperation of Lagos, Ogun and Oyo state governments, adding that over 1,000 houses were demolished in Ogun State alone in the course of the construction.