The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi C. Amaechi, in a chat with journalists at the inspection of railway project from Itakpe to Warri, explained the rationale behind ongoing projects across the country and how the present administration used $100 million to fund them.
ADEOLA TUKURU was there.
Sir, are you satisfied with the work done so far? The fact of the matter is that most of these projects have been there for over 30 years.
When Nigerians put us under pressure, I asked a question that what the reactions of Nigerians were when nobody was doing these projects.
You need to see the files that the President has been pushing to complete every project that was started from Obasanjo, Yar’Adua to Goodluck and now to us.
Other governments won’t do that; they will start their own so that it will be remembered after them.
This project we are completing has been there for 34 years; imagine those of you born 30 years ago.
They have finished the track lying from Itakpe-Ajaokuta because they had to re-construct.
I am satisfied with the work; it just means that from Itakpe to Warri or at least to Alaka.
The implications are that whoever gets to Itakpe can also get to Warri.
I think they need to improve and do more when it comes to station building.
How much was disbursed for these projects? What we have borrowed is $1.6 billion for Lagos-Ibadan railway project.
The Ministry of Transportation is funding this (Itakpe-Warri railway project ) this contract is about a hundred and something million dollars to CCECC, what CCECC is doing reconstructing were vandalized from Itakpe to Ajaokuta.
This project that was over 30 years was vandalized by some criminals, what we did was give CCECC a contract not to only relay the tracks back to Ajaokuta but also do sidings.
I can remember that about $100 million was awarded to CCECC to rehabilitate the stolen tracks and build stations.
There were no stations before because it was merely built for steel workers and materials and to transport them to seaport.
We are also funding the AbujaKaduna railway.
In total, it will come down to a billion dollars.
The Chinese government gave us $500 million and we gave N500 million.
We awarded a contract of $500 million for coaches, the China Exem Bank wanted to give us the money but the President turned it down and said we should fund it ourselves and we started funding it, $500million to fund locomotives, the CCECC want to manufacture wagons, some of us think it will be Ajaokuta because of the iron ore.
Do you think the project was following the stipulated time frame? The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi C.
Amaechi, in a chat with journalists at the inspection of railway project from Itakpe to Warri, explained the rationale behind ongoing projects across the country and how the present administration used $100 million to fund them.
ADEOLA TUKURU was there.
Amaechi If it is time frame, they are well ahead of schedule.
It is meant to be completed in 2019 and what we are doing here is what we are doing in Lagos-Ibadan and that project is actually a three-year contract.
But we are forcing them to a one-year completion period.
Just like this is supposed to end by 2019 but we are saying no, you must leave site before October.
They need to speed up work because as it is, work is yet to commence on some of the station buildings.
Yes I agree with them that if we allow them till 2019, they will finish but we also verbally had agreed with them that they should start commercial operations by June 2018.
What are your plans to extend the railway line to Lokoja What we are saying is that for this line to be passenger friendly and so that nobody gets stranded at Itakpe.
Itakpe does not necessarily have the facility for those who want to get to Lokoja but if it gets to Lokoja; first not because it has to be passenger friendly alone but we are also fulfilling the President’s directive that all tracks must pass through all states capitals.
Itakpe to Lokoja is 34 km and from Lokoja to Ajeokuta is about 25 km.
So the thinking is, why not push it forward not only to assist people to Abuja but also to comply with President’s directive that it should be extended to all state capitals and finally to ensure that passengers from the South can get to the North without stress.
Can you rate the percentage of work done? It is between 70 to 80 per cent complete, but you must know that this job is meant to be completed in 2019.
However, we are compelling them (the contractors) and because we are pushing, they are working day and night to have it done.
When will the rail line be opened for commercial operation? I know that it will start this year.
What is the volume of credit facility placed on railway by the federal government? Well, the federal government had no apology when it comes to borrowing to fund infrastructure in Nigeria.
Not much has been taken but most people think we have taken much.
We are proposing to take it but it has not come.
There is a difference between what you propose and what you eventually get.
Last fund taken was taken by Goodluck Jonathan which is $500million for Kaduna to Abuja and then the federal government contributed a $500million.
The next is that we have taken $1.6billion for Lagos-Ibadan.
When people hear that they are borrowing, they don’t understand but the President has no apology if we have to borrow for infrastructure and I am sure people will be happy to go through Warri without going through Lagos to get to Warri.
This will save time to connect to the North and the South and that means those people taken food to the south can get to Lokoja and put the food to Warri and continue from there.
When it is completed, it will run about 120 to 150 kilometres and it is the longest line with 302km.
Why is the Ministry rushing the projects? You can imagine the commercial activities involved; imagine how much food will cost.
The pressure on the road will also be reduced.