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Four new standard gauge coming, says Amaechi

Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, has said Nigerians should expect four new standard gauge projects from the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

The minister stated this, on Wednesday, while addressing reporters at the Moniya Station, in Ibadan, Oyo State, after inspecting the train stations on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge.

He said as the Lagos-Ibadan projects winds up, Nigerians should expect four new speed train projects from the Federal Government within the next four years.

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Amaechi listed the new projects as the Ibadan-Ilorin-Kano standard gauge, Katsina-Daura-Maradi-Jibia in Niger Republic, the Port-Harcourt-Onne-Warri and the Lagos-Calabar coastal rail line.

The minister explained that besides the Ibadan-Ilorin-Kano, he had sent a proposal to his the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to get approval for the new rail projects.

According to him, the projects will be done as the funds for them become available.

On the Lagos-Ibadan speed train, Amaechi said though he had earlier directed the completion of all minor stations by September, the contractor had assured that the stations could only be completed in phases.

He said, “The contractor has assured us that only three minor stations could be completed by September ending, while the other three would be completed by October ending and the three major stations to be completed by December ending.”

The minister said though the contractor had argued that Apapa Station may be a bit delayed because it was started late, he had given them up to December to complete it along with the major stations.

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“I had insisted that the project would be meaningless without Apapa Station. I had, therefore, directed that they set up a special task force to handle Apapa Station exclusively. The idea is to ensure that they will finish Apapa in December along with the major stations,” Amaechi said.

Also, Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhira, said the September take-off of commercial operation of the Lagos-Ibadan speed train might not be possible after all.

He said though the NRC was rearing to go, the contractor had expressed concern that everything ought to be in place before starting commercial train service.

“Since we are proposing a commercial operation, we must be able to fulfill our commitment to time. If we promise them two hours, we must be able to fulfill that and not begin to offer excuses that could cause delays because construction works are still going on along the track corridor,” Okhiria said.