The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has kick-started a nationwide tour of Federal Government’s infrastructural projects nationwide with an inspection of the ongoing construction of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line.
Alhaji Mohammed, along with the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, Tuesday led a team of over 30 journalists on a tour of the fabrication plant of the project in Papalanto, Ogun State.
The Ministers and their entourage had earlier travelled by train from Ebute Metta in Lagos to Papalanto, where they inspected the laying of the rail tracks, the rail-track slippers construction site and other accessories of the project.
After the tour, the Ministers held a meeting with the contractors of the project, the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), officials of the Federal Ministry of Transportation and other officials to review the progress of work on the project.
Alhaji Mohammed later told the media that the government embarked on the inspection of the projects in the full glare of the media in order to showcase its achievements to the people.
“The idea of this visit actually is to showcase to Nigerians the amount of work this administration has been able to do in the last three years, starting with railways. The idea is to let Nigerians know that this government has done a lot in the area of infrastructural projects,” he said.
The Minister of Information and Culture, who expressed his appreciation at the progress of work on the project, said the construction of the standard gauge rail-line from Lagos to Kano is one of the flagship projects of this administration, which will transform the economy.
He appealed to the contractors to ensure that the December 2018 deadline for the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line is met.
Alhaji Mohammed said in addition to the construction of the standard gauge rail line, the Federal Government will also upgrade the 3,500-kilometre narrow gauge railway lines across the country.
In his remarks, the Minister of Transportation said that for the first time in the history of Nigeria, the present administration will deliver a speed train in the country.
“What are you expecting to see? A speed train that will do a minimum of 150 kilometres per hour that will take you to Ibadan in an hour from Lagos and when we finish, we will introduce an express train that takes off from either Apapa or Ebute Metta straight to Ibadan or straight to Abeokuta…and we will introduce the one that stops at virtually all stations,” he said.
Mr. Amaechi said that because of the capital-intensive nature of railway construction, the President has given the approval to source for funds to construct rail lines across the country.
“Usually, the Federal Government of any country invests in railway. The likely change in terms of strategy is that we may have to borrow the money because the money is not just there. We are saying that even the three rail lines that we have to construct now: The Lagos-Kano; Lagos-Calabar and Port Harcourt-Maiduguri will cost us not less than $46 billion and we don’t have it straight in our pocket, we have to source the funds,” he said.
Mr. Amaechi, who said the construction of the rail lines will give a boost to the Nigerian economy, disclosed that 7,000 people have been gainfully employed in the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge line.
The contractors are laying 1.2 kilometres of rail-track per day on the 156-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge line, which is a section of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge line.