An outbreak of COVID-19 among the workers involved in the Lagos-Ibadan rail project in January stalled the completion of the contract, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said.
Mr Amaechi said the Federal Government had extended the project from its original destination at Ebutte Meta to the Lagos ports.
Addressing journalists after inspecting the three mega stations and seven minor stations of the newly constructed standard gauge railway in Ibadan on Saturday, Mr Amaechi said the China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC), the contractor handling the project, had connected the rail line with the country’s premier port in Lagos.
“It is not clear when the project is to be commissioned as the earlier commissioning date of January 2021 was shifted due to the second wave of COVID-19,” he said.
“ Sometime in January, over 60 workers on the site contracted COVID-19 which stalled the completion of the project.
“ At the moment, it is observed that most of the mini stations are still undergoing finishing touches while the cooling systems have been fixed.
“At the Wole Soyinka Station, Abeokuta, another mega station, the cooling system is yet to be fixed as well as other facilities in the interior parts of the station,” Mr Amaechi said.
According to him, this is to allow for massive freight movement and free up Lagos roads.
The minister was accompanied by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Magdalene Ajani; Chair, Governing Board of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Musa Al-Hassan and the Managing Director of NRC, Fidet Okhiria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that they commenced the inspection from the mega station at Ebutte Meta before proceeding to the Apapa Port station.
To ascertain the level of work at the Port, the minister and his entourage took a train ride to Apapa Port which had been significantly connected to the standard gauge track.
Inside the port, the Minister frowned at the indiscriminate parking of trucks on the old narrow-gauge tracks along the corridor.
According to him, the inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail to all the stations is to put finishing touches to the 157km fast rail.
He said the Federal Government was committed to ensuring the completion of all train projects and to ensure that the contract bequeaths to Nigerians a train service that is comparable to anywhere in the world.
The Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation, Mr Okhiria, said the current frequency of the Lagos to Ibadan train service will be increased from once daily to twice daily in two weeks time.
According to him, when it commences operation, the passenger train will stop at Agege railway station and Abeokuta enroute Ibadan and back, instead of the present trend of stopping only at Abeokuta after takeoff from Lagos. (NAN)
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