Yemi Adedeji, Abuja
Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), the company handling the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project has reveled that the December deadline given by Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transport may not be realisable if the federal government refuses to address the identified challenges it is currently facing.
Ameachi had given December 2018 as deadline for the completion of the project which was originally supposed to be completed by year 2020.
The project according to an inside source in the company who does not wants his name revealed that is bedeviled with some huge challenges that are threatening the revised completion period of the project.
The contractor accused some section of the host communities around the rail corridor of insensitivity and extortions, allegations, one of the local chiefs claimed it has been remedied.
Adunbu, Abule Otun, Ibagu and Papalanto in Itori, Iwekoro, LGA, of Ogun state are the dominant communities within the Ogun State rail corridor.
The CCECC also accused the Ogun state government of not showing enough support, even though they are huge beneficiary of the FG’s owned rail project.
The source said that the Ogun state government and communities are not as cooperative to the project. The Ogun state government had demolished our site yard at Abeokuta without notice. I don’t think they appreciate this project. Oyo and Lagos have been cooperative” according to CCECC management.
Upon visit to the site, our correspondent gathered that beyond the two bridges that will be demolished in Lagos and rebuilt, several kilometers of gas, water pipes and telecoms cables, will have to be relocated.
He stated: “The track passes through the army barracks at Ebute Meta, that means we will have to relocate the barracks but to where?” A top management staff of CCECC, who wouldn’t want his name mentioned, told our correspondent.
“The government is still discussing with the military on how to relocate the barrack. Until that is done, there is little we can do. There are several water and gas pipes that have to be relocated. That’s a huge challenge because it’s complicated relocating those pipes. Also the existing narrow gauge track will be removed and relocated at some places”
“At some places, the height of the high tension electricity wires needs to be elevated at least 9.5m. As we speak, we still have three kilometers of right of way not yet acquired. We still have thousands of tones of steel at the Apapa port we haven’t cleared because of the gridlock. But if the federal government can fix all these challenges, we can complete the project this year. If not, there is nothing we can do” he affirmed.
Them minister is however aware of the challenges but insisted that the completion dateline will be met.
“The good news is that by December 2018 we should complete Lagos-Ibadan rail project. But we have about 43km of water pipes to be replaced. We have sewage to deal with. We have bridges to demolish and build, we have an army barracks to relocate, we have gas pipelines to relocate and other challenges. However, we are discussing with the Lagos state government on how to deal with these challenges” he assured.