The 157-kilometer Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge train is ready for commissioning, transport minister Rotimi Amaechi has said.
He said the Ministry was only awaiting the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to give a specific date that he would be available for the commissioning.
Amaechi who was on an inspection of the project from Apapa to Ibadan on Saturday alongside the Ministry’s officials and the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) however said the President would decide when the project would be commissioned.
Daily Trust reports that several timelines given for the commissioning of the project have elapsed owing largely to disruption precipitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Sometime last year, the contractor handling the $1.6bn project, the China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC), had to reduce the workforce when some of the staff contracted the deadly Covid-19.
During yesterday’s inspection, it was observed that finishing touches were being put to the construction of stations in Apapa, Ebutte-Meta, Agege, Agbado, Kajola, among others.
At the Mobolaji Johnson Station which is the biggest station in Lagos, iron seats have been fixed at the waiting area but at some stations, few workers were only on ground.
According to the Minister, while there has been some improvement in the train stations, the contractor appeared to have slowed down.
He said the CCECC management has been summoned to appear in the Ministry on Wednesday to get a specific date on when the stations would be completed ahead of the commissioning.
He however said the project is ready for commissioning as soon as the President gives approval.
“We are having a conversation with the Presidency. Once the Office of the President gives us the date for commissioning, we are going to communicate the date.
“So once they give us a date, I like to work under pressure, we are commissioning. If they say we are commissioning on Monday, what’s remaining here? What we have left are just minor things which can be done in one to two days,” he said.
On the Ibadan-Kano section of the project, the Minister disclosed that the Federal Government had disbursed the first counterpart fund for the project while awaiting the approval of the $5.3bn loan from the China Exim Bank.
He said, “On the Ibadan-Kano, we have done quite a lot. We have engaged the people for the right of way, we are only waiting for the China Exim Bank to give us the loan.”