The minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said President Muhammadu Buhari has given approval for the purchase of additional 17 locomotives for the Abuja – Kaduna rail line due to the influx of passengers.
Mr Amaechi also said the contractor handling the new Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, CCECC, is expected to commence the laying of the track in December.
He said the Federal Government team led by himself had decided to undertake a monthly inspection of the project to ensure its smooth execution and delivery on schedule.
He spoke in Lagos after a meeting with the contractors on the progress of the job thus far.
The minister, who had earlier warned the contractor against failing to deliver the project, said that there was no going back on the December 2018 delivery deadline.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had inaugurated the rail construction project earlier in the year, with a projection that about half a million jobs would be created through it.
The new Lagos-Ibadan rail, spanning 156.65 kilometres, is a double line, which is the first phase of 2,733km new Lagos-Kano rail line, expected to be linked with the Kaduna-Abuja standard gauge railway recently completed and now running.
“On monthly basis, we’ll try to review the performance of contractors so as ensure that we meet our target of laying this track by December 2018.
“We are satisfied with the work done. Sand clearing has been done; we have started taking away the debris. Hopefully by 2017 December, they will start laying tracks; we believe that if they maintain the current speed, we should be able to deliver by 2018,” he said.
The new Lagos-Ibadan rail line is expected to cost N458bn and is being jointly funded by the Nigerian and Chinese governments. While the Federal Government has paid N72bn as its counterpart funding for the project, the Export-Import Bank of China will commit $1.275bn (about N408bn) on behalf of China.
On the Kaduna-Abuja rail line, he said President Muhammadu Buhari had given the go-ahead for the purchase of 17 locomotives for the rail line.
“You know there is pressure on the Kaduna to Abuja rail line because there are more passengers than locomotives. There are two reasons for this, one is due to the state of the road from Kaduna to Abuja; secondly, the Abuja to Kaduna rail services is subsidised; so, more people are trooping in to enjoy the services at low costs.
“To address the pressure on the Abuja-Kaduna rail services, Mr. President has approved that we buy more locomotives and coaches. We have placed order for 17 coaches. Two (locomotives) have already been retrieved. By December, 10 more will be received; and they will all be deployed in the Kaduna-Abuja rail services.”