The China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC) has completed the laying of the double tracks of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge project to Ebute-Metta Junction (EBJ) inside the premises of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) in Lagos as Nigerians await the commencement of commercial activities on the corridor.
Daily Trust reports that with the completion of the tracks laying, the contractor is set to continue from EBJ to the nation’s premier ports, Apapa, a feat that would transform the nation’s economic landscape, enable massive movement of cargoes and ease port congestion.
Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge
The $1.7bn Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge project which is 157-kilometer long started in March 2017 as part of the railway modernization drive of the Federal Government.
It is the LOT two of the Lagos-Kano project initiated under the modernization project to drive economic activities in the country going by the prospect of railways in massive transportation of goods and passengers.
NRC had done a trial run from Iju in Lagos to Ibadan, conveying passengers for free. However, the oversubscribed service stopped due to COVID-19.
Congestion at Ports
To ease the congestion in Apapa ports, the project scope was expanded to Apapa ports, and our checks showed that works have reached an advanced stage to get the tracks to Apapa.
An engineer on site, Engr. Tunde Imoletan, confirmed that road pavement is almost completed.
“We are doing the surface dressing which would be followed by the laying of sub-grade, then laying of sub-ballast. After that the track laying will commence.
“The track laying doesn’t really take time. What takes time are the earthworks. Immediately we finish with the surface dressing, lying on a sub-ballast which has passed Iganmu and we are approaching Ijora, the track laying will commence.”
The distance from EBJ to the Port complex is 7km and the track is designed to link three major terminals in the ports including the Apapa Bulk Terminal Limited (ABTL), ENL Port and Terminal and APM Terminal.
About 24 new coaches have been delivered ahead of the commencement of operations on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge service.
Managing Director of NRC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria had disclosed that the operations would start with 16 trips daily from Lagos to Ibadan while full-blown service commences in 2021.
Mr. Fidelis Ogbonna, who works at Apapa and uses the narrow gauge train from Iddo to Agbado, said he looks forward to the commencement of commercial activities on the standard gauge which he said is faster to travel with.”
Edeme Kelikume, a haulage expert said the standard gauge would unlock the nation’s economy.