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Amaechi: COVID-19 delaying Buhari inauguration of Lagos-Ibadan rail

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  • Minister threatens to stop train operations

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the inauguration of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line has been put on hold due to the upsurge in COVID-19 cases in the country.

He has threatened to shut down the Lagos-Ibadan and the Abuja-Kaduna train services if any case of the pandemic is detected among passengers.

Amaechi, who disclosed these in Abuja, also said that over 60 workers on project site had been infected by COVID-19 while trying to complete the project.

President Buhari was expected to formally inaugurate the 156km standard gauge rail line early this month to kick-start its full operation as stated by the minister during his last inspection of the project last month.

He added that the Lagos-Ibadan railway project to be completed this month would be inaugurated virtually by President Buhari.

Amaechi also spoke on the some construction workers that contracted COVID-19 in course of working on the Lagos-Ibadan railway project.

“First, let us admit that over 60 of our staff, not ministry of transport staff, but the staff working on the rail project have been infected by COVID-19. Luckily, nobody has died and I pray nobody will die, but you see the kind of sacrifice everybody is making to get the rail to function.

“They are people sacrificing their lives to get to that point, we are of the view when we made that decision that Nigeria will not say 2020 was a bad year, so remove one year and add another year to Buhari administration.

“As far as we are concerned, we need to learn how to live with COVID-19, I really want to congratulate those that achieved that feat, we were to inaugurate first week in January. We had to stop those doing minor completion because of the rise in COVID-19 transmission.

“The timeline for inauguration will depend on COVID-19. If COVID-19 stops today or reduces, we will commission the project.”

Amaechi further stated that the train services on all routes might stop if passengers failed not adhere to the COVID-19 protocol.

“We will allow the train to run but if we see that we are conveying passengers who have COVID-19 from Lagos to Ibadan, we will stop it; just like we are threatening to stop Kaduna-Abuja, if people don’t comply with the COVID-19 protocol.”

According to him, the Abuja-Kaduna route conveys about 4,000 passengers daily, adding that if anyone transmitted COVID-19 onboard, it would be a serious challenge.

The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) had in December 2020 commenced operations of the 156km Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line.

Speaking on a live television programme, Amaechi said train passengers must comply with all COVID-19 protocols during their trip.

“If we see that we are conveying passengers who have COVID-19 from Lagos to Ibadan and Ibadan to Lagos, we will stop it just like we are threatened to stop the one from Kaduna to Abuja if people don’t comply with the COVID-19 protocols.

“Don’t forget that on Kaduna-Abuja, we convey 4,000 passengers in a day. Imagine that about 20 per cent have COVID-19, they can transmit COVID-19 to the entire passengers. The rate of transmission will be high. The same is applicable to Lagos. Everybody must comply with the COVID-19 protocols, wear your masks till the end of the journey,” he said.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Kylee Llerena

    March 28, 2021 at 4:20 pm

    I’m actually dreading this one now. I haven’t started it yet but still.

  2. Delphia Gruhlke

    April 8, 2021 at 8:40 am

    She understood him. He could not forgive her,-but he could not be unfeeling. Though condemning her for the past, and considering it with high and unjest resentment, though perfectly careless of her, and though becoming attached to another, still he could not see her suffer, without the desire of giving her relief. It was a remainder of former sentiment

  3. Bruce Robey

    April 25, 2021 at 6:05 pm

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Railway

Buhari flags off Kano-Kaduna rail construction, to link Tin Can Port

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Kano to get Nigeria’s biggest train station
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday performed ground-breaking ceremony of 203.8km standard gauge Kano-Kaduna rail line, which he said would be linked with the Tin Can Island Port in Lagos.

A mega railway station is to be constructed at Zawachiki, Kano State, which will be the biggest train station in Nigeria.

Buhari said the railway station would be strategically located adjacent to the Dala Inland Dry Port in Kano.
The rail project is the third segment of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge railway modernisation project.
The first segment (Abuja-Kaduna) and the second segment (Lagos-Ibadan) were inaugurated for commercial operations in July 2016 and June 2021 respectively.
The President said his administration recognised rail transportation as a potent economic driver and as such, has accorded railway infrastructure development the greatest priority.
“The take-off of construction activities on this segment of Lagos-Kano vividly represents the commitment of this administration in the revival of the Nigerian railway system to reduce the deficiency in our transportation infrastructure and drive effective and more efficient transportation of passengers and freight within the country,” Buhari said.
“This project is crucial to the establishment of a supply chain in railway transport within its corridor, Kano-Kaduna-Abuja, as it links the major commercial cities of Kano and Kaduna to the federal capital territory, Abuja.
“This railway connection, when completed, will establish the ports in Lagos, as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic.
“This would positively drive our economies through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation.
“The federal ministry of transportation and ministry of finance are working to engage co-financiers to conclude financial agreements for the development of the Ibadan-Kano line and further increase the bankability of the project.
“The railway line will be linked to the second port in Lagos, the Tin Can Island port. It is also expected that the dry inland port on these routes will be activated. The ports can now receive imports directly from the international market as ports of destination.”
In his remarks, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said, “The project will improve the standard of living within this corridor, create employment…we will not employ anything less than 20,000 workers on this route. It will also promote trade.
“In the long term, the railway will help decongest the Lagos port complex and increase efficiency and as well as further increase the viability of the inland dry port located in Ibadan, Kaduna and Kano.
“The Ibadan-Abuja (railway project) will link the seaports to Maradi, Niger Republic, which I believe will greatly boost trade between the two countries and foster economic development.”
Amaechi also hinted that the Federal Government would soon construct another railway that will link Sokoto-Kebbi-Zamfara to the national railway network.
“Currently, we are awaiting the national assembly for the approval of the loan facility to continue the work from Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri,” he added.
“The work traverses Port-Harcourt, Aba Umuahia, Enugu, Markurdi, Lafia, Jos, Kafanchan-Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Damaturu, Gasua, and then Borno.”

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NUR excited about FG’s attention to railway, advises workers

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Nigeria Union of Railway Workers has expressed satisfaction and excitement at the attention being given to the Nigerian railways by the Federal Government.
It has urged its members to reciprocate the good gesture of the Federal Government on the development of the rail transport industry through diligence, punctuality and display of a high level of professionalism.
The union gave the advice preparatory to the ground-breaking ceremony of yet another standard gauge track construction project of Kano-Kaduna rail line tomorrow (Thursday).
Addressing the congress of the members of the union in Lagos, the Secretary General of the union, Segun Esan, urged the workers to show appreciation and gratitude to FG’s quest for an effective and efficient railway through various construction of standard gauge lines and equipping the industry for greater performance.
He particularly charged them on the need to protect the new and other railway facilities against theft and vandalisation.
Esan said, “The best we can do to express our profound appreciation to the Federal Government is to get committed to this work with passion and also protect the railway facilities from theft and vandalization as if it is our personal property are aware of what it takes to build a railway in terms of capital intensiveness of the development of the industry.
“This is why we must renew our enthusiasm and passion to make Nigerian people and the federal government proud by working with greater diligence and top-notch professionalism.”
He commended the administration of President Mohammadu Buhari for raising the ante by starting the construction of 190km Lagos-Ibadan (Moniya) track construction, completing it and commencing its full commercial operation.


‘’Nigerian railway workers take cognizance of the commendable feat achieved by this administration in starting the construction of Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge from the scratch and completing it and even starting the operation within its tenure. This is worthy development that has never happened in the country before.
“If all past Administrations have been this committed to the development of the railway industry, we would have had higher rail infrastructure base and greater market share of the passenger and freight presently taken by the road mode would have come to the railway and the road network would have been saved from constant dilapidation and pressure.
‘’We should recall that the spate of infrastructure development under this incumbent administration in terms of system transition from the narrow gauge railway system to standard gauge, no doubt, has been very tremendous, consistent, and way too unbelievably contrasting to what used to be the order of the day in the past when remedial approaches were explored to salvage the railway industry all to no avail.
“This administration owns the credit for the completion, upgrading, and operation of Warri-Itakpe standard gauge railway after being dug out from its complacent state spanning over 25 years and the completion/operation of Abuja – Kaduna railway which, as we stand, is the flagship of the Corporation. We have no excuse but to tap into the lofty vision and aspiration of the federal government for a better railway system by complementing its effort with a good attitude to work.”

Esan however appealed to the FG not to make the mistake made in the past whereby locomotive engines, coaches and wagons were purchased without adequate spare parts to repair and maintain the facilities bought.
He added that the welfare and salary regime of the railway workers should be reviewed with a view to using that as means to encourage and attract young and employable Nigerians to follow career paths in the system.

 

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FG still discussing with Standard Chartered over railway project loan – Amaechi

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The Federal Government is still discussing with the London-based Standard Chartered Bank to finance the Lagos-Calabar coastal rail project.
David Iyofor, media aide to the minister of transportation, confirmed this to TheCable in a text message on Monday.
Iyofor did not state the exact figure the government is planning to borrow from the London-based financial institution.
In June, Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, hinted about the federal government’s move with Standard Chartered Plc to raise about $14.4 billion to fund two rail projects.
The Standard Chartered financing is expected to replace the borrowing plan from China for the construction of rail lines in the country.
In another report, Bloomberg had quoted Amaechi in an interview that Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, is “overseeing the talks with the emerging markets-focused financial institution about arranging the infrastructure loans.”
He had said the loan would make the country move away from China in some of the projects.
The federal government is currently seeking loans to execute several rail projects in the country. These include the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, Lagos-Ibadan-Kano rail lines, and the Lagos-Calabar coastal rail project.
-TheCable

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