The Federal Government will next week complete payment for the construction of the new Lagos-Ibadan rail line being handled by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has said.
Amaechi, who spoke in Lagos on Tuesday during the inspection the project, reiterated that it would be completed in December 2018.
He said, “There are no funding challenges because they have their money. We have paid part of the counterpart funds and whatever is remaining, we will pay in the next one week.
“When we sign, they will collect their money from the China-Exim Bank. So, in terms of funding, there is no problem. In terms of capacity, they have to deliver and by next year June-July, we should be able to deliver the central line which starts from Itakpe to Warri.”
The new Lagos-Ibadan rail line with extension to Lagos Port Complex, Apapa, Lagos State, is expected to cost N458bn and will span 156.65 kilometres.
The agreement between Nigeria and the CCECC for the construction of the standard gauge line was signed in July 2016. The new rail line will eventually be taken to Kano and linked up with the already completed and running Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge rail track.
Amaechi also disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the sourcing of loan for the construction of another rail line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, adding that the project would cover both the South-East and the North-East.
He said that the rail project from Lagos to Kano was capable of generating 250,000 jobs.
“You can imagine how many people they are already employing. More people will be employed as the rains stop. We are creating jobs and paying salaries through this process and the government’s intention is to ensure that all state capitals are covered,” the minister said.
He added, “The directive of the President is that we should ensure that the whole country can be accessed by rail. You understand that the economy cannot run without logistics; and logistics is transportation; for him, the roads will last longer if we transfer freight from road to railway.
“This is part of that directive that we should at least ensure the construction of the Lagos to Ibadan rail while we are negotiating for the Ibadan to Kano part of it and at the same time negotiating for the loan for Lagos-Calabar rail line.”
Amaechi said that the steel needed for rail could not be found in Nigeria and that was why the country was importing it.
The Chief Project Coordinator, CCECC, Mr. Leo Yin, said in Lagos on Monday during a visit to the Nigerian Railway Corporation headquarters by the Senate Committees on Land Transport, and Local and Foreign Debts that only 85 per cent of the payment had been released.
He noted that the delay in the release of the counterpart funds had been a major challenge to the execution of the project.
According to him, the first batch of 6,000 tonnes of rail out of 45,000 tonnes for the project will be ready for shipment to Nigeria from China next week.
He also said that 700 out of 7,000 workers required for the project had been mobilised.
The committee members led by Senators Gbenga Ashafa (Land Transport) and Shehu Sani (Local and Foreign Debts had visited the project site at Agege, Lagos.