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FG needs $656m to complete Lagos-Ibadan rail line – Amaechi

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The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the Federal Government will require $656m to complete the Lagos-Ibadan railway standard gauge project.

Amaechi stated this while defending his ministry’s 2021 budget before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Land and Marine Transport.

The minister said the amount was needed to put in place additional infrastructure for the project to serve its intended purpose.

He also said that the Ibadan-Kano railway project required an injection of $645.3m as advance payment to enable the Federal Government to complete its loan signing agreement with the China Exim Bank.

Amaechi said, “Under the railway modern programme, I am happy to report that the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge line has reached 92 per cent project completion.

“However, for the project to achieve full loan drawdown from our co-financier, China EXIM Bank, and attain practical completion for it to be used for the intended purpose, some aspects of work involving construction of upgraded railway stations, signalling and telecommunication system, power supply scheme and construction of pedestrian and overpass bridges have to be completed.

“This additional and extra work amounting to $656m which is to be financed 100 per cent by the Federal Government of Nigeria has been approved by the Federal Executive Council for implementation.

“Similarly, for the implementation of the Ibadan-Kano railway, which is the outstanding segment of the Lagos-Kano railway project, one of the conditions precedent to signing of the loan agreement is the release of advance payment in the sum of $864m, out of which government has released the sum of $218.7m, leaving a balance of $644.3m.”

According to him, the government planned to complete the fencing of the Abuja-Kaduna railway line for security purposes.

Amaechi stated that the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri railway project, which was recently commissioned by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), still had an outstanding amount to be paid on the project.

He added that the ministry would commence the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri (Eastern Narrow Gauge railways) next year.

The minister also said the construction of the central railway from Itakpe to Abuja and a 378km single track standard gauge rail line traversing Kano, Katsina and Jibiya with a 20km extension to Maradi in Niger Republic had been slated for next year.

Railway

Updated: Rail track vandals risk life imprisonment, says NRC

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Vandalisation and stealing of railway materials especially track equipment could attract life imprisonment upon conviction of the suspects who will face a manslaughter charge.
The Nigerian Railway Corporation stated this on Sunday, saying this was part of new measures being taken to arrest the disturbing new practice of cutting and stealing rail track materials as more standard gauge trains commence operation.
Coordinator of the Warri-Itakpe rail line operation, Abdulganniyu Saani, an engineer, who stated this in a telephone interview with NewsTrends, also dismissed the viral video of the arrest of five suspects with a vehicle load of rail track sleepers, which were claimed to have been cut from the new rail line.
He said it was an old clip of an incident captured many years ago with the suspects who had stolen some of the narrow-gauge rail sleepers around Jos, Plateau State.
He said the police had begun a manhunt for the vandals of the Warri-Itakpe extra rail line located in a station within Kogi State, who were still on the run.
Sanni explained that the activities of rail track vandals could “lead to derailment and death of innocent train passengers, adding that all hands must be on deck to stamp out such criminal act.
“It is not just about the cost of replacing or fixing the damaged or stolen materials but the danger this poses to the lives of innocent people using the facility.”
He said the corporation had elicited the support of leaders of communities where the rail track passes through and they had agreed to set up vigilante groups for continued surveillance and protection of the rail materials.
“One of the reasons we give priority to the employment of locals, that is members of communities where our track passes through, is to get their cooperation of always protecting our facilities.” Sanni stated.
He also said the latest cutting of Warri-Itakpe track material was not on the main lane but an extra lane, which had not disrupted the running of freight and passenger trains.
He said, “The train has continued to run; no day has been skipped. Our main line is not affected.
“But the police in Kogi State where the incident had happened are on the red alert. They are working with other security agencies to apprehend the vandals and anybody who dares tamper with railway materials.”

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Police still on trail of Warri-Itakpe rail track vandals – NRC

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• Says vandals risk life imprisonment
Vandals of a section of the newly inaugurated Warri-Itakpe rail track have not been arrested, contrary to an earlier report, the Nigerian Railway Corporation has said.
Coordinator of the new rail line operation, Abdulganniyu Saani, an engineer, who stated this, also dismissed the viral video of the arrest of five suspects with a vehicle load of rail track sleepers, saying it was an old clip of an incident around Jos, Plateau State taken some years back.
He also said the latest cutting of Warri-Itakpe track material was not on the main lane but an extra lane, which had not disrupted the running of freight and passenger trains.
Saani spoke in an interview with NewsTrends on the telephone, warning that vandals would be treated as manslaughter suspects with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment upon conviction because their activities could lead to fatal railway accidents.
He also said that a number of traps had been laid for the arrest of the vandals still on the run and other hoodlums that might be contemplating of vandalizing or stealing railway materials.
“The police in Kogi State where the incident had happened are on the red alert. They are working with other security agencies to apprehend the vandals and anybody who dares tamper with railway materials.

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Five arrested for destroying, stealing new Warri-Itakpe rail track

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Seven months after inauguration, vandals have destroyed the Warri-Itakpe rail track, cutting the rail sleepers and carting the materials away.
Already, the police have arrested five men in Delta State in connection with the vandalisation and stealing of the rail track materials.
The suspected vandals were said to have cut several sections of the track around Kilometre 30, Adogo (Kogi State) section of the rail line.
Officials of the Nigerian Railway Corporation reportedly discovered the vandalisation two days ago.
The rail line was inaugurated by the President Muhammadu Buhari in September 2020 after about three decades of starting the project.
It is a standard gauge railway connecting the port city of Warri to the inland town of Itakpe initially meant to supply the Ajaokuta Steel Mill with iron ore and coal. But after a protracted construction period of more than 30 years, the 51km railway was finally inaugurated last year as a mixed freight and passenger line.
The project was completed by Julius Berger, and was extended from Ajaokuta to Warri (Aladja Steel Plant and Jetty) for the transportation of passengers along Itakpe-Warri corridor in addition to the original concept of freight movement service for the steel industry.

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