The China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation handling the new Lagos-Ibadan rail line has commenced overnight work on the project in order to fast-track its construction and make the standard gauge line available for use early next year.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is expected to inspect the project from Lagos to Abeokuta in the first week of January, according to the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
About two weeks ago, the minister, who bemoaned attacks by hoodlums and armed robbers on the CCECC’s workers among other factors slowing down the construction, said the December 2018 deadline initially set for the completion of the standard project was no longer feasible. He gave February 2019 as the new date.
In order to meet up with the new date, the contractor said it had stepped up efforts to mobilise more workers and equipment to the site.
The Public Relations Consultant to the CCECC, Abdurraof Akinwoye, said that the Chinese contractor commenced overnight work on the rail project about three weeks ago.
He specifically said more men and materials were drafted to the Iju, Agbado and Ijoko areas of the railway corridor for the overnight work.
He said, “This is to make it possible to move the new train from Iju to Abeokuta by January 5 as requested by the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi.”
Akinwoye said maximum security had been put in place for the workers working day and night at different project locations between Lagos and Ibadan, adding, “The Federal Government has approved the deployment of armed security men in the various locations.
“At night, we have soldiers, police, OPC and other private security agencies involved in the combined security force on regular patrol of the corridor, especially the construction sites.”
He added that since work started on the project, they had not recorded a single case of kidnapping, attributing this to the efforts of the security agencies and excellent community relations which the contractor had established with residents along the railway corridor.
He said the construction of the standard gauge rail line meant to take three years was being done under two years.
“The idea is to bring the Vice-President and some ministers to join us in the ride. And so far, we have installed anti-theft track to guard again theft. I will tell the CCECC to concentrate on the track for now by focusing on one rail track to the end because work will be faster that way while they can continue with the other lane.”
The minister also said one of the gains of the project was that no fewer than 9,000 Nigerians were on the payroll of the counterpart funding of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project of the Federal Government and the CCECC.
The Chairman, House Committee on Lands and Transportation, Jibril Abdulmumuni, said he had to join in the inspection with his committee members to inspect the project so as to be able to give firsthand information to the House about the level of work done.
“I just told my colleagues that I will personally go and see Mr President and tell him what we have witnessed and Nigerians should know that a lot of work is going on here,” he said.