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Work begins on Abuja-Lokoja rail next year – Amaechi

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  • Govt negotiating loan for Lagos-Calabar rail project

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the Itakpe-Lokoja-Abuja railway project which will connect the new Warri port, will commence in 2021.

Amaechi, who stated this said at the 2021 budget defence in Abuja, said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government remained committed to connecting different parts of the country with rail, to ease the burden of transportation.

The minister added that the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri eastern narrow gauge, the deep-sea port in Bonny and railway industrial park in Port Harcourt were also part of the project for next year.

“The reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri eastern narrow gauge railway, construction of new branch lines and trans-shipment centres for future railway development connecting with this corridor is very important.

“This project is also integrated with a deep-sea port in Bonny and railway industrial park in Port Harcourt being developed through direct investment by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, CCECC partnering with Chinese financiers.”

Amaechi noted that the “construction of the central railway from Itakpe to Abuja, connecting a new Warri port, construction of a 378km single track standard gauge rail line traversing Kano-Katsina-Jibiya with a 20km extension to the commercial border town of Maradi in Niger Republic are projects proposed for 2021.”

According to him, the problem with the coastal rail lines like other projects is the paucity of funds, adding that the Ministry of Finance is negotiating a loan to fund the Kano-Maradi, Lagos-Calabar and Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway projects.

Amaechi further said extra work on the Lagos-Ibadan corridor, amounting to $656m (funded by the Federal Government), had commenced.

According to him, the extra work included the construction of upgraded railway stations, signaling and telecommunication system, power supply scheme and construction of pedestrian and overpass bridges.

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

“The project contractor, Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited, on the instruction of the ministry has commenced work and reached an advanced stage. Therefore, in order not to forestall the progress of implementation,  adequate fund needs to be provided in the 2021 budget proposal to facilitate the completion of the project,” he added.

Amaechi further said that for the implementation of Ibadan-Kano railway project, one of the conditions precedent to signing of the loan agreement, was to release an advance payment of $864m, saying government had so far made a part payment of $218.7m.

Railway

Lagos blue rail project gets CBN N60bn support (with photos)

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  • Train to run every three minutes at peak period – LAMATA

The Central Bank of Nigeria says it has offered N60bn support through three commercial banks for a railway project being executed by the Lagos State Government.

The funds are being released specifically for the Lagos Blue (rail) Line, running between Marina and Okokomaiko, which is one of the seven mass transit rail projects being developed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).

Director of Development and Finance at the CBN, Mr Phillip Yusuf, disclosed this on Thursday during an inspection of the project at Marina, Lagos.

Already, he said N45bn had been disbursed, adding that the last tranche of the funds would be released soon.

According to him, this is one of the projects the apex bank and some deposit money banks are supporting under its N1 trillion DCR Intervention, which is part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic to businesses and projects affecting the people.

He named the banks involved as Access Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc.

“The total amount that we have made available for this line is N60 billion. We have disbursed N45 billion; there is another tranche of N15 billion due.

“So, we can see the progress made with the disbursement that had been made so far. This is just one of the many projects under its DCR Intervention.”

Yusuf expressed satisfaction with work done and the solid structure being put in place by the contractor.

He said, “I am quite impressed with what I see on the ground. LAMATA had taken us around and we can see the solid structure that is being put in place in Marina.

“The quality of work is quite impressive and they have shown us all the work done so far. Luckily, I am an engineer; I can appreciate the amount of work being done.

“Most importantly, I see young Nigerians welding, fabricating and there are over 500 jobs on site. For me, that is a very good take away.”

The Managing Director, LAMATA, Mrs Abimbola Akinajo, said, “The vision of the state is to ensure that this project will be operational in the first quarter of 2022, as we are on track.

“One of the major things in every project is funding, and with the support we have from the CBN and three other banks – Sterling, Fidelity and Access, we will ensure we meet our goal and target.”
She said that LAMATA was at present constructing the first operational phase of the Blue Line, adding that five stations at Mile 2, Alaba, Iganmu, National Theatre and the Marina would be constructed within the axis.

She said that the Marina station would actually serve as the hub in Lagos State because both the Blue and Red lines would terminate at the place and the Green Line which would come from Lekki would also terminate at the Marina station.

Akinajo said that the Marina station would serve as an interchange because every form of transportation would be catered for there.

She called for the stakeholders’ collaboration on the project to enable the state government to achieve its aim, stressing that three sets of coaches would commence on the line in 2022.

She said that each of the coaches would carry not less than 1,000 passengers, adding that the signalling system in place would allow the movement of train every three minutes during peak hours.

The line is expected to run on the surface in the central reservation of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway between Igbo-Elerin Road (Okokomaiko) and Iganmu. It will then be elevated from Iganmu along the south side of the expressway passing the junction with Eric Moore Road, crossing just south of the National Theatre to Iddo, then south to Lagos Island with a terminal at Marina.

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Concession of railway services coming soon – NRC MD

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Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria, has hinted about plans for the concession of train operations in the country as a way to speed up and sustain ongoing development of rail transport system.

He stated this just as he said the corporation would continue to run the system in ways that would make the repayment of loans taken easy.

Okhiria spoke on Wednesday when he appeared at a town hall meeting organised by Raypower FM under the theme: “Interrogating the Essence of Chinese loans in Nigeria”.

Recently, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the Federal Government had taken $2.5bn loan to complete the new 156km Lagos-Ibadan railway built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

Okhiria said at the Raypower forum that the corporation was considering concession and efficiently moving rail at an affordable price to quickly turn out the repayment.

“We are not ruling out even concession of the railways,” he said.

The NRC MD however did not give details on when and how the concession would be achieved.

A concession agreement, according to Investopedia, is a contract that gives a company the right to operate a specific business within a government’s jurisdiction or on another firm’s property, subject to particular terms. “Concession agreements often involve contracts between the nongovernmental owner of a facility and a concession owner, or concessionaire. The agreement grants the concessionaire exclusive rights to operate their business in the facility for a stated time and under specified conditions,” the authority adds.

A project consultant and partner at ALG, Joan Miquel Vilardell, contributing to an AfDB Transport Forum discussion, had said that the private sector participation had been positive in several railways worldwide, usually under concession.

But he noted that the initial concession model used in Africa and Latin America had not led to enough investment, especially in infrastructure.

 

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N567m required to hire 1,000 workers for Lagos-Ibadan rail operations – NRC MD

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The Lagos-Ibadan rail line will employ 1,000 additional workers at a cost of N567.45m per annum, Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Mr Fidet Okhiria, has said.

He disclosed this in Lagos when members of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Transportation visited the Ebute Meta headquarters of the NRC.

He said the current personnel strength of the corporation was 10,672 with current personnel cost of N9.14bn for 2021.

Okhiria added, “On corporation’s revenue generation since 2020, NRC has remitted N1.13bn to the Federal Government approved dedication TSA Account domiciled with the CBN.”

During the visit, it was found that the signal and communication system of the new rail line was not operational yet.

The Project Liaison Officer of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, Mr Yakubu Adogie, said the company was already working to surmount the challenge before the first quarter of 2022.

In a statement by the NRC, the CCECC liaison officer also said the company was working on the plumbing, power supply, and telecommunications of other stations within the new Lagos-Ibadan railway corridor.

Adogie added that despite the intervention of the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, in July and payment of compensation, the Nigeria Customs Service log room building had not been demolished to give way for the construction of the other two lines to connect Apapa port.

The Project Manager of TEAM Construction Company Nig. Ltd, Leonardo Portanova, also spoke on the overhead bridges and crossings in the Lagos end of the rail line.

According to him, the Lagos State Government is constructing seven overhead bridges while TEAM would build six overhead crossings.

The Chairman, House Committee on Transportation, Abdulfatai Buhari, also said the House was ready to support the NRC with necessary legislative framework to ensure effective rail transport and boost inter-regional business in the country.

He said, “You are all aware that the joint committee is carrying out its statutory constitutional responsibilities to ascertain the level of work done.

“We are here to oversee how funds appropriated in the past fiscal years were expended and how much is needed for the smooth running of the corporation against the next budgetary allocation.”

The Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Transportation, Abbas Tajudeen, asked contractors working on the projects to open a good channel of communication with the committee.

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