Construction work will begin on the Apapa corridor of the Lagos-Ibadan Rail project next week Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi said during a visit to Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode at work yesterday.
Amaechi told reporters after a strategic meeting with the governor and his team at the Lagos House in Alausa, Ikeja that the contractors handling the Lagos-Ibadan Rail project had been directed to return to site to resume work from Apapa as part of efforts to bring about permanent solution to the perennial traffic gridlock in the axis.
The minister said: “You would recall that the Federal Government had commenced construction of the Lagos-Ibadan Railway and the focus was more on the Ibadan and Abeokuta axis because we had challenges in Lagos which included utilities and not much with the communities and I think I have to commend the communities that allow us use their land though we would pay compensation but not much. So, we are grateful to all the communities from Lagos to Ibadan.
“However, we have utility challenges both gas pipelines and water. Beyond the gas pipes, we also have challenges with bridges to either build or demolish. I remember when we said we wanted to demolish the Costain Bridge, everybody screamed and we had to invite the Lagos governor to assist us; he took us there and promised that he would pay the compensation.
“I like the fact that the Lagos State Government are also contributing to this whole efforts and so what we have come here to do is to ensure that there is a win-win situation and the Lagos governor has been very cooperative.
“He cooperated all the way from the beginning till now and what we have decided is that CCECC (Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company) should therefore move back to Lagos for construction to commence immediately in Lagos because we are insisting that by December, we should complete the Lagos-Ibadan Railway.”
He said in addition to the rail projects, the Federal Government was also working on the roads, saying that the combination of the projects would facilitate seamless movement of cargos from the ports at Apapa.
Amaechi said: “What we are trying to do there is to get a good road to evacuate cargos but it would be faster with the rail. So, while we are working hard to ensure that the rail is delivered by this year ending, the Federal Government has also awarded the contract to deal with the road from Apapa and Tin Can to enable us to evacuate cargos freely which is an addition to the rail.”
Lauding the Federal Government action to start from the Apapa end of the rail project, Ambode expressed optimism that the development will go a long way to enhance movement of cargos from Lagos to other parts of the country.
The governor said: “Lagosians would recollect that in the last three weeks, we have had issues with the Apapa gridlock and two times, Mr. Vice President had actually visited Lagos and promised that a lot of remedies would take place.
“We want to use this platform to say a big thank you to Mr. President and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approving the reconstruction of the Tin Can-Apapa-Oshodi Expressway up to the Toll Gate which was done yesterday. This is in continuation of our efforts at finding permanent solutions to what has been happening in the Apapa axis.”
“We also want to say a big thank you to the minister of Transport and minister of Works because the rail construction that is coming up and will commence in Lagos from next week is actually from the Apapa ports up to the Ibadan axis which means that we are having a two-pronged approach to be able to cart away cargos from Lagos to other parts of the country.”
The governor also commended the Federal Government for approving the reconstruction of the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway as part of efforts to finding lasting solution to the perennial traffic gridlock around the axis.
He specially thanked President Muhammadu Buhari; Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo; Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, and indeed the entire members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), saying the state government was grateful for their commitment to end the sufferings of the people in the state.
He said as a follow-up to the federal initiatives, there will be a lot of additional construction works across the state, especially from the Apapa axis, including 10 over-passes to further reduce the sufferings of residents.
Besides, Ambode reiterated the commitment of his administration to collaborate with the Federal Government on the implementation of impactful projects that will make life comfortable for the people.
He said: “We just want to say that we reiterate the commitment to collaborate with the Federal Government as a state government to ensure that we reduce the sufferings of Lagosians and I am happy that we have come out from this meeting stronger together with the Federal Ministry of Transport to make sure that this particular rail project is delivered within the next six to twelve months.
It would be recalled that the Federal Government, at the end of Wednesday’s FEC meeting, had approved N72.9billion for the reconstruction of the road from Apapa to the Toll Gate on Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.