Speaks on $650m loan request
Says faulty locomotives to be returned to China
By Dirisu Yakubu – Lagos
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, Monday, continued his routine inspection tour of railway projects on the Lagos-Ibadan axis.
Accompanied by the Ben Akabueze, Director General Budget Office of the Federation; Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Engr. Fidet Okhiria; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, amongst others, the inspection commenced at the Ebute-Metta Railway Complex, where significant work has been done including tiling and plastering.
At the Agege substation, the Minister expressed dismay at what he called the slow pace of work, reminding officials of the China Civil Engineering Construction Company, CCECC, that he would return on December 23 to ascertain the level of work done.
The situation was not different at the Omi-Adio substation where the Minister attributed the slow pace of work to inadequate manpower.
Vanguard gathered that though contract staff handling sundry aspects of the project numbered about 10, 000 before the outbreak of COVID-19, the same is now down to about 3,000.
He urged the contractors to recruit more hands in order to ensure the completion of the project and deliver it for use of the public as soon as possible.
The Minister also described reports that the Ministry is seeking over $650 million loans to complete ongoing expansion works on the Warri-Itakpe and the Lagos-Ibadan rail lines as untrue, noting that the money sought for the projects have long been approved.
“I read somewhere that we are looking for an additional $650 million for the expansion works on the Lagos-Ibadan and Itakpe-Warri corridors. This is not true.
“We said we would be needing $1.6 billion and that was long ago. The money has since been approved. It is not as if we are looking for additional funds for these projects. It is important that I clarify that,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister further disclosed that malfunctioning locomotives on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line will be returned to China
“It is worrisome that these locomotives that are brand new, are failing,” he said even as he added that the locomotives have over four years warranty.
Amaechi explained that it was not necessary to keep repairing them since their warranty is still valid.
“This will affect the number of times the train will now run on the route” the Minister stated.
It will be recalled that on the 20th of November, the Abuja-Kaduna train stopped along the way, causing the passengers untold embarrassment.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, had said the locomotive breakdown was caused by a failed turbocharger.