BY CHIDI OLEHI in Abuja•
Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has given the hint that the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan railway project would commence passenger service by 6th of February 2019.
Amaechi, who inspected the project site in Agbado, near Abeokuta, explained that the assessment might be the last before the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo flags off the service in the next few days.
“I am impressed and from what I have seen, the Vice President is still going to ride on the train on the 6th except he has other arrangements.
“Once the Vice President flags it off, we will start using it and it will be free. The free ride will be for two months,” he said, revealing that, the Vice President was coming to flag off the passenger use of the first phase from Lagos to Abeokuta which would reduce passenger travel time from one hour to 45 minutes, adding that, the reason why it was 45 minutes is because people might stop in different locations.”
On other pending issues concerning litigation and compensation, Amaechi, observed that, “there is none but if there is any, it will be inside the yard of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and there is one building that we are yet to pay compensation but it is not in court and we are still negotiating the compensation.”
“What gives me joy most with this project is the fact that I can travel from Lagos to Abeokuta in less than one hour. The work is about 60 per cent completed. We presently have two coaches on this corridor but we know they won’t be enough, so we have directed that they should go and get more coaches from Itakpe-Warri since the passenger traffic on that corridor is not as high as what we expect here. So, we are expecting two more coaches.
“From what they told me, they think it will be quicker because the problem is always the civil work and they have gone far with it. The only problem they have is that they have to blast rocks and that they are doing now to make sure that before the end of June, it will be ready.
“What will be the problem will not be the tracks but the stations and the communication systems. It will be difficult if it is a two way traffic but we are avoiding that till we install the communication systems,” he explained.