Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi yesterday gave the contractor handling the Lagos-Ibadan rail project two weeks to complete the at Iju-Agbado axis.
He gave the ultimatum during the monthly inspection of the project. The minister noted that work was slow because of the scarcity of the equipment needed.
Amaechi said 30-passenger coaches and about 300 wagons would be used on the axis upon completion.
He said: “The problem the contractor has now is the civil work between Agbado and Iju, which is critical to me because I don’t think passengers should go and board train from Agbado.
“I believe that it is important that the closer we are to Lagos, the better for the rail. That is what we are battling now because I want them to use the same speed noticed in some sections in the construction of Agbado area to Iju.
“They want us to flag off from Agbado, but I don’t want because I feel Iju will be more appropriate to flag off and they said they will be ready with that axis in two weeks. But I think we should get to Iju because it will not be wise to drive from Lagos to Agbado to board train.”
On the unavailability of equipment, he said: “They argued that lack of equipment was responsible for the pace of work because the equipment are not on the shelf that can just be picked and paid for. What is causing the delay on the Agbado to Iju axis is equipment related.
“The equipment have to be brought from overseas. We will have to wait for the processing and then ship it down and if we wait for those equipment, we might be finishing the job when the equipment would arrive.”
On the arrival of coaches, Amaechi said: “We are expecting 30-passenger coaches mixed with locomotive wagons, 300 wagons and two sets of Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) made up of 10 coaches each and two motorcars, which will arrive in Lagos before the construction work is completed.”
He said the major challenge at the Lagos seaport was not clearing but inefficient rail line.
The minister dismissed the claim that his frequent visit to the construction site was due to external pressure
He said: “The problem at the Lagos seaport is not clearing because goods are cleared in time. The problem is movement of those goods out of port.
“I am not under pressure from anybody. Part of the solution to Lagos seaport is an efficient rail line. You can argue that the narrow gauge is there, but it is not efficient. The moment we fix this, those goods will be transferred to the rail and the logjam will disappear.
“So the pressure is more economic than political or people-based. Once they finish Iju, I will push them to go to the seaport. Once that is done, there will be no more logjam and then businesses will grow, which will create more employment.”
He said the Federal Government would continue test run on the Itakpe-Warri rail till May after which it would begin commercial activities.