By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, is satisfied with the progress of work at the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway project, as it is nearing completion.
He said that whether the construction of mega railway stations are completed or not, Nigerians deserve the provision of train services on the standard gauge as end of year festivities approach.
Amaechi expressed dissatisfaction that the railway development is causing havoc and distress to communities, causing them to voice outrage.
The transportation minister said this on Saturday at the end of inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway project.
The inspectors kicked off from Lagos end aboard the new railway system train.
“From the last time we came you can see it is coming to an end. Work will be handed over to Nigerians when it comes to an end. We’ve done several test-runs from December 2019.
“Whether we finish it or not in terms of stations I think it will be necessary to provide train services before the festive season, but this time it will no longer be free,” he explained.
He was sad at the progress of work on Papalanto and Abeokuta mega train stations, and commended the builders on the others.
“If you were here the last time we came, we were literarily quarrelling with them (contractors) almost at every station apart from Kadjola. We had querrelled at Ebute Metta all the way down, excluding Kadjola.
“Now, as we were coming the only two stations we were not happy with them will be Papalanto and Abeokuta. Out of ten or so, you can see huge improvement in the rest eight,” Amaechi emphasized.
He expressed concern that communities that were affected by the project are complaining about the impact on their livelihood.
He said the communities are complaining of erosion and adverse effects on crops, as well as movement across the other side of the way, having being cut off by railway development.
In expression of feeling about the stress being experienced by communities that are suffering the impact of the project, the minister of transportation declared: “Communities are complaining of erosion and challenges to crops, moving across.
“If you don’t provide enough level crossings human beings will continue to use the track.
“You see, if you kill any human being in the cause of this railway and say he was either negligent or careless, you must also prove that government was not negligent enough to provide infrastructure for the human being to be able to cross from Point A to Point B.”
Amaechi highlighted the present challenge posed by the project, stressing: “We have cooperation from the communities. The contractor has done the best he could do. The problem is weather. You know there were periods we had weather challenges, and they (contractors) couldn’t work within that period. Beyond that I think they have done well.”