By Lucy Ogalue
Abuja – Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has said funds was not a challenge delaying completion of the 1.6 billion dollar Lagos-Ibadan rail project.
Amaechi said in a statement by the Director, Press and Public Relations of the ministry, Mr Eric Ojiekwe, that the delay was due to lack of workers on sight.
The minister was quoted as disclosing this on Saturday while inspecting the project in company of the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the Project was paused due to the onset of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.
The minister, however, tasked Messrs China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), the contractors handling the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail to complete the project within five months.
He argued that COVID-19 had come to stay thus, Messrs CCECC were to devise measures of completing the project.
He urged them to procure personal protective equipment for their workers as no excuse for failure would be accepted.
He advised the company to adhere to safety measures such as compulsory use of masks and safety shields by all workers to get the required number needed to work in all stations.
On why the Ibadan-Kano 5.6 billion dollar rail yet to commence, Amaechi stated that government was yet to secure the loan facility from China Export-Import Bank.
He gave assurance that the project remained a priority of the President Muhammadu Buhari ‘s led administration.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammed, on his part, commended efforts made so far on the project.
Mohammed said:“I am very impressed. The reason we brought you here is to see that it is not a concocted story.
“This is the reason why we are borrowing the money so that Nigerians can travel in dignity and comfort”.
He explained that monies borrowed were not for grandiose display nor for overhead or running costs for the nation but rather for capital projects which on completion would create jobs and provide needed infrastructure for Nigerians.
He noted that there was nothing bad in borrowing so long as it was used to provide improved service delivery for the people.
Mohammed commended Amaechi for the passion exhibited in driving the project and urged CCECC not to disappoint.
The Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhiria, disclosed that the corporation was working out modalities on commencing operations on the Lagos-Ibadan and the Itakpe-Warri rail corridor in September.
Other dignitaries on the inspection tour included Managing Director, Nigeria Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman, the Board Chairman, NRC, Mr Ibrahim Alhassan Musa, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Hassan Bello, among others.(NAN)