The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi on Monday expressed doubt over the feasibility of meeting the April 2020 deadline for the completion of the Ebute-Metta railway mega station.
Amaechi made this known in an interactive session with journalists in Lagos during the monthly inspection of rail projects across the country.
Accompanied by the Oyo state governor, Engr. Seyi Makinde and Minister of State (Transportation), Senator Gbemisola Saraki, Amaechi wasted no time in expressing his displeasure to the Chinese firm working daily at the Ebute-Metta end of the project.
He said: “On the April/May deadline, I can’t answer that question. When you ask them, they still tell you it’s true.
“It’s a mixed bag. In some stations, you are impressed, in others you are not. Last time we came here, we had to suspend work because they were using what we refer to as stone dust, now they are using balance to do the foundation.
Not much happened at the Abeaokuta station but the worst is from Ebute-Metta to Apapa. That is painful and that will be the focus from now henceforth.”
According to him, no excuse would be acceptable henceforth even as he vowed to meet with those concerned later in the week.
“They are giving all sorts of excuses,” he continued, “but I have asked to meet with the Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, on Thursday or Friday to resolve those issues.
“Again, the second excuse they have is that their vessels are at the sea port. They can’t even berth because of the long queue. We will address it when we meet with NPA to see how they can come forward because we really need to complete this thing as soon as possible. The Chinese Construction Engineering Company, CCECC and NPA will be at the meeting and we will resolve the issues.”
He further called for patience, saying issuing new deadlines to the contractors who may end up failing again was not good for business.
“Let me not continue to give you a date and getting to that date, you are not there. They (contractors) are being political. When I complain the last time, they said minor stations will be completed in April.
The tracks are almost 100 per cent completed. But what you must know is that there are two contracts here. The first contract is from Ebute-Metta to Ibadan. The second contract is from Ebute-Metta to Apapa sea port which is about 6km. And that’s where we have been having problems. If you have been following this inspection, we have always had problems with Lagos because of the urban nature of Lagos.
“We have a lot of demolition to do. You have to deal with pipes, you have to deal with oil pipes even when you get to the sea port but in terms of tracks from Agege to Ibadan, it was smooth.
“Now they are working from Agege to Ebute Metta which they think they should be able to complete in one to two weeks. It’s just that trucking sand from Ogun state to Agege is a problem because they said they need more 32000 cubic meters to finish up at Agege but they do 3000 per day which means they need ten days to be able to truck the quantity of sand that they need so it’s not that easy but I think they are making progress.”
Also speaking during the inspection, Makinde, said the new rail line will impact positively on the social and economic lives of inhabitants of Oyo, stressing that many companies are likely to relocate to the state.
He assured that the state government is noting the effects that the rail project would have on the state, and is making plans to position to place to take up the challenges.