By Stella Enenche, Abuja
In a bid to forestall accident along the Lagos – Ibadan rail corridor, the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has stressed the need for the contractors and communities to meet and decide the safety of the people by constructing under and over passes.
The minister, while speaking during a routine inspection of Lagos -Ibadan rail project on Saturday, said communities along the rail corridor had complained severally about the insufficient under and over passes.
Amaechi added that the communities had also complained about erosion originating from the rail line which was affecting them because, in the course of construction, the grounds were raised very high.
“The first thing for us is to complete our over passes and under passes so that when any accident happens, we will say Lagos state government is liable because, we have completed our own. If we don’t complete our own and anything happens, we will also be as liable as the Lagos state government.
“There are communities along these routes especially in the Ogun State area. We have in the course of constructing this rail line elevated the tracks and erosion is happening but it can’t cross over to the next place.
“Why have we not attended to them. Because there are communities that continue to write and when they write I will send to the permanent secretary, who will send to the director rail and then we will not hear about it again.
“We are being unfair to them because they gave us all the cooperation we wanted. If these communities have been this good to us, why do we want to visit them with what was not there before we came?
“Is for the engineers to take a study village by village of what impact our rail line must have caused to those communities, viz-a-viz EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment)”, Amaechi said
Speaking on the Lagos- Ibadan train operation, the minister said,”Whether we finish or not in terms of the stations, I think it is necessary to provide train services before the festive season. But this time it will no longer be free.
“The only two stations that we are not too happy with them will be Papalanto and Abeokuta stations. But the have promised to intensify work on them in the net few weeks.
Commenting on the proposed Kano-Maradi rail project Amaechi said: “Kano-Maradi is at the stage of loan negotiations. In fact, we are fast tracking them and now they are doing front end engineering even before the loan, we are insisting on that. We believe that the front end engineering should be able to end before January.
“However, we’ve told them that we can’t wait till January, they should start now to acquire right-of-way, pay compensation and start clearing the right-of-way so that they can prepare well when the front end engineering is over.
The minister explained that construction will commence on the Kano-Maradi line before the Ibadan-Kano line. He added that compensation for right-of-way on the Ibadan-Kano project would soon be attended to.
“We believe that the fastest will be Kano-Maradi because the Chinese have a way of slowing down the loan process. In fact, it is worse after the imbroglio at the National Assembly.
“So from October they have moved to December and now we re hearing first quarter. So that may take time to come. There is a third project, which is the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri and I can’t give a timeline on that.
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