Acting Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday said the N458bn Lagos-Ibadan Railway project will be completed by December, 2018, just as he performed the ground-breaking ceremony for the take-off of the project.
The project is to be built by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, CCECC at $1.5 billion (N458bn).
The Federal Government has paid its counterpart funding of N72 billion for the project to take off.
Performing the ground-breaking ceremony of the project at the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, Yard, Ebute Metta, Lagos, Southwest Nigeria, Osibanjo described the project as epochal as the project signified the determination of the president to modernize the national railway system and keeping with his promise to the Nigerian people.
“The president in his January 2016 visit to China re-opened negotiation on the Chinese support for this project, second this ceremony also mark the commencement of our plan to move speedily to improve link with Lagos which is the national economic nerve centre and major port to other state capital across the country.
“Thirdly our ground breaking today reflects the plans of the Federal Government to build a globally competitive economy with first grade infrastructure. The critical roles of infrastructure and for this purpose railway in this strategy are underscored by our economic recovery and growth plan as well as 2016 and 2017 budget,” he said.
Osinbajo stated that government made provision for matching funds in 2016 budget to complement the concession loans obtained from China, saying that “we have the entire Lagos-Kano rail track as well as the Lagos-Calabar railway track in the 2017 budget.”
He disclosed that negotiations on the Kaduna –Kano portion of the track was now completed as the Lagos-Ibadan railway project was the next phase, adding that “we have already provided our portion for funding for the Lagos-Calabar route as well and we expect that negotiations with the foreign component of the funding will be finalized within the next three months and the Lagos-Calabar projects as well.”
The acting president stressed that an active and vibrant railway system conferred many benefit on the society as government’s ultimate goal was to restore a railway using culture for both commercial and personal transportation.
“We are confident that the national rail project will create up to half a million jobs and facilitate the movement of up to 3.2 million tons of cargo per annum. It will also reduce the burden on national high ways thus reducing deterioration of the road network and increasing the life span of our roads. Railway network will support efforts to diversify the economy and enhance our export potentials. Just as several of our cities became know as railway towns in the past, we expect to boost economic activities within the railway lines that will eventually cut across the entire country.
“To achieve this objective, the Ministry of Transportation has completed feasibility study for up to 13 routes identified for connecting state capital and major commercial centres to the rail network , we should begin to see significant activities in this regards very shortly. It is important however to have a viable self sustaining and vibrant rail system.It should be one that is not reliant on government funding which may not be available all time; it should be one that can be upgraded at all time and not left to decay to management or lack of attention.
“I am confident that we will see the same zeal in project construction so that the railway line will be completed on schedule. We are looking forward to a fast and efficient service between Lagos and Ibadan withing the projected time frame which is on or before December 2018,” he stated..
Speaking, Lagos Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode said the project marked a new dawn in the transformation of the nation’s transport infrastructure, saying that the state government was excited about this project because it would further open up the economy of the South West region and facilitate regional integration and growth.
“The agricultural sector will receive the long awaited boost as the rail line will be a fast and convenient means of transporting farm produce from the hinterland to the city thereby increasing the economies of these places,” he said.
The governor said in addition, the proposed Red Line Project would breathe a new lease of life into the state’s roads and highways, saying that a direct benefit of this project was that containers and goods from the Apapa Port would now be transported by rail, thereby reducing the number of trailers and other heavy duty vehicles on the roads.
“A direct consequence of this project would be less productive man hours wasted on the roads due to traffic gridlock and bad roads due to heavy duty vehicles. In addition, we expect government to expend fewer resources on road repair and maintenance once the rail line takes off and reduce the pressure of articulated vehicles on our roads.
“We thank the Federal Government of Nigeria under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari for prioritizing this landmark project which will greatly complement our efforts to deliver a transport system that is befitting of a modern city state. It is also important to note that the Lagos Red Line rail will share the same corridor and Right Of Way with the Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan Rail Line,” he said.