By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
Contractors handling Port Harcourt-Enugu railway modernization project have been paid some money, but construction cannot start until Public Procurement Department and State Executive Council (SEC) as well as supervising engineers give approval.
Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, said this during this month’s assessment of Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge railway infrastructural facilities.
According to him, construction cannot go on if the supervising engineers are not in place to tick offdesigns.
He highlighted the reason why it appears indigenous engineers are not getting contract in the railway sector, stressing that their qualifications and experiences have to satisfy the requirements for winning contracts.
“Local contractors must qualify and must meet the requirements as approved by the Directorate of the Railway,” he stated.
He regretted that some applicants for contract falsify their job experiences, and even copy and paste other people’s completed projects as jobs they executed.
He pointed out that some consulting engineers get contract and subcontract it to foreign firms. “If you have the capacity you become number one” (to be considered for contract award) “before any foreign company,” Amaechi assured.
Continuing he said: “You say five years experience, a contractor in Nigeria will take picture of another man’s job and put it as his own. I don’t know whether they think we are fools. All you need to do is Google it and you will see who owns the job.”
He enjoined indigenous contractors to show that they are capable of doing the job they applied for, that they have the equipment, assuring that they would be chosen to do the job.
Amaechi said that there is no knowledge that expatriate contractors have that Nigerians do not have, noting that even if they do not have the knowledge, such knowledge can be acquired in the course of construction.
He explained the reason why present train operation cannot run more than four trips, stressing that there is the challenge of signalling and communication that have to solved to ensure that they are in perfect condition before trips can be scaled up.
He stated that he has asked NRC toscale up from the present four trips to eight trips per day.
The transportation minister disclosed his directives to Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) management on accountability in railway operations: “Every month I want to know how many passengers you have moved from Abuja to Kaduna, from Ibadan to Warri, and how much you have made, the cost of operation,” Amaechi outlined.