The Nigerian Railway Corporation on Thursday said construction work on the over $1.5bn Lagos-Ibadan railway project was moving ahead of the scheduled time for its completion.
It also stated that concerns in some quarters that funding might have slowed work on the project were not necessary, as funds meant for the construction of the railway were available.
The Managing Director, NRC, Fidet Okhiria, told our correspondent that construction work on the project was moving smoothly and that contractors were on the site.
He also stated that the recent reaction of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, about the slow pace of work on the project was because the Federal Government wanted the facility to be completed before the scheduled time.
On December 20, 2019, Amaechi described as embarrassing the delay by the China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation in completing the 10 railway stations along the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line.
Amaechi made the remarks at the Abeokuta rail station under construction, during the monthly inspection of the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan rail project.
According to him, the CCECC, the contractor handling the 156km rail line, had reduced the pace of work between the last two inspections in November and December.
“The delay is becoming an embarrassment and I think we need to meet with the CCECC. We cannot continue like this. The speed has reduced drastically this time. We need to meet with the management of the CCECC. We have a problem with the CCECC honestly,” the minister had said.
But when asked on Thursday whether the complaint by the minister and the delay by the CCECC was due to issues of funding, Okhiria replied, “The minister did not complain. Rather, he was just making sure that they finish before the contract time.”
When probed further to state what must have warranted the delay, the NRC boss said, “There is no hitch. We are moving on and everything is moving well. The fact is that the minister wants them to finish before the time.
“The contractor is saying that it wants to keep to the time. However, we are still ahead of the scheduled time.”
Okhiria said the free train ride on the service was still ongoing and that the corporation had the target of starting commercial services on the route in April.
“We are still looking at April to start commercial operations and right now the free ride and test runs are ongoing,” he stated.