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Minister laments inadequate manpower slowing down Lagos-Ibadan rail project

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Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the sharp drop in manpower of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation attached to Nigerian railway projects due to COVID-19 is slowing down the pace of work on the new Lagos-Ibadan rail line.
He, however, expressed optimism that the project would be ready in record time, especially for the end of the year trips.
Amaechi spoke with journalists at Moniya Railway Station, Ibadan, during a routine inspection tour of the new rail line that took off from Ebute Meta Railway Complex, Lagos.
The minister was accompanied by the Ben Akabueze, Director General Budget Office of the Federation; Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria; Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, among others.
The minister said he had advised the contractor handling the project, CCECC, to hire more workers and ensure they follow all safety protocols for coronavirus for adequate protection.
It was learnt that not some of the Chinese working on the project that travelled back to China before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic had not returned to the country.
It was also learnt that the 10,000 contract workers handling different aspects of the project before the pandemic had been cut down to about 3,000.
Amaechi said, “We’ve told the contractors on the Lagos-Ibadan rail project to engage more workers across all stations for prompt completion.”
He added that a Nigerian team would meet with the CCECC managers on Tuesday to discuss measures to accelerate work on the project.
“On all other projects, including Ibadan-Kano, due to the slow pace of work on the Lagos -Ibadan, we have said that we will not commence work on any other contract until we have a comprehensive programme of work so that we see when you start, when you finish and the facilities that you need,” Amaechi said.
The minister debunked a report that his ministry was seeking over $650 million loan to complete ongoing work on the Lagos-Ibadan and Warri-Itakpe rail lines, noting that the funds sought for the projects had long been approved.
“I read somewhere that we are looking for 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.”
The minister also visited the signal control building for the new line being constructed in Lagos, apart from railway stations between Lagos and Ibadan to assess the level of work done.

Railway

Just in: Nigerian railway suspends Abuja-Kaduna train services over safety

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The Nigeria Railway Corporation has announced the suspension of train services on the Abuja-Kaduna route.

It said on Thursday that the decision was taken for safety purposes after a section of the rail track was vandalised on Wednesday night.

Some Kaduna-bound passengers were reportedly forced to return to Abuja following the damage to the track.

An ex-senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, had tweeted on Thursday that there was a bandit attack on an Abuja-Kaduna train he was travelling in and had a miraculous escape with other passengers.

But the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Mr Fidet Okhiria, said it was an attack by vandals on the rail track.

The corporation said in a statement on its website on Thursday that train services had been suspended on Abuja-Kaduna route for the safety of passengers and crew members.

It added that efforts were being put in place to ensure maximum safety along the route.

It also further information about the suspension would be conveyed to the public later.

Daily Trust reported that hundreds of passengers were stranded at Rigasa Railway Station in Kaduna on Thursday morning.

The report stated that most of the passengers that booked ‎their train tickets online later resorted to travelling by road.

An NRC official at the station told the passengers that there was a problem with the train and so there would be no train.

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Business

Haulage cost drops as NRC resumes cargo movement to Kano, Kaduna dry ports

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The Nigerian Railway Corporation has resumed the movement of cargoes in containers from Lagos to Kano and Kaduna dry ports, more than a year after it suspended the operations.

Managing Director of Inland Containers Nigeria Limited (ICNL), Ismail Yusuf, who stated stated this during an interview with journalists in Lagos, added that the cost of haulage had thus dropped by 50 per cent compared to what the road transporters charge.

In September 2020, the NRC suspended the movement of containers by rail from Apapa port for rehabilitation of the rail tracks.

Yusuf said about 40 containers had been moved so far, adding that 40 empty containers had been returned through the same mode to Lagos from the Kano and Kaduna inland dry ports.

Apart from cost reduction, he said the movement by rail would  save time and ensure the safety of the consignments being moved by rail.

According to him, it will now cost a half of what is presently being spent on road haulage to move containers by rail.

According to him, the ICNL is still in talks with the NRC to deploy additional coaches to the port operation because his company has cargoes on the ground to be moved.

“As you know that the Federal Government is encouraging the Nigerian Railway Corporation to ensure movement of cargo from the seaport to the hinterland and this is very critical to our Kano-bonded terminal and Kaduna Inland Dry Port, which is our subsidiary company,” Yusuf said.

He also said, “The management of ICNL and Kaduna Dry Port has led the management of the railway corporation to discuss the modalities of how they can come back to life. We thank God that our request has been acceded to and this is the outcome of our discussion.

“Presently, they have supplied us with two rails for the last two weeks. We have moved about 40 containers, and this will continue every fortnight until we attain maximum capacity.

“The number of containers being moved also depends on the availability of locomotives, and as long as we have enough cargos to load.

“We have started from somewhere: from one to two rails and from there we can increase it to four or five rails.

“We are talking with NRC on how we can increase the capacity to meet the yearnings of customers who want to use the services of the rail corporation. Time spent on the movement is a minimum of 48 hours and a maximum of 72 hours.”

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News

NRC to cut Abuja-Kaduna trips for maintenance work

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The Nigerian Railway Corporation announced on Sunday that it would reduce the number of trips on the Abuja-Kaduna route from Oct.19 – Oct.21.

Its Managing Director, Fidet Okhiria, said in a statement that the reduction in the number of trips was to effect scheduled maintenance.

He stated that rather than the daily 10 trips, there would be four trips only on Oct. 19 and on October 20.

He added that on Thursday, October 21, there would be eight trips.

“Full train services will resume on Friday, Oct. 22,’’ Okhiria assured.

The NRC management apologised for inconveniences the reduction in the number of trips might cause to passengers.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the NRC introduced an additional Diesel Multiple Unit on the route recently which increased the number of train trips from eight to 10 per day.

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