By Rotimi Ijikanmi
Abuja, O t. 2, 2020 The federal government says with the linkage of 156km Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line to Apapa seaport and construction of dry port in Omi Adio, near Ibadan, the perenial congestion in Apapa will be a thing of past.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated this on Friday when he featured on Nigeria Television. Authority (NTA) live programme, “Good Morning Nigeria”
The programme which focussed on “Nigeria at 60: Matters Arising” was monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
The Minister explained: ‘Containers meant for people outside Lagos will be evacuated by rail to somewhere in Omi Adio where the Nigeria Shippers Council has a dry container terminal.
“You will no longer see those trailers carrying containers from Apapa in Lagos to across the country.
“The containers will be dropped in Ibadan via rail for clearing by importers, thereby decongesting the Apapa seaports and the roads,” he said.
Mohammed said the tracks of the rail project have been completed from Ebute-Metta terminal in Lagos to Ibadan while the10 major and minor stations along the route are at different completion stages.
He recalled that he took a number of journalists on tour of the project in company with the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi when they boarded a fast moving train from Ebute metta to Ibadan.
The stations along the corridor are Apapa, Ebute-Metta, Agege, Agbado, Kajola, Papalanto, Abeokuta, Olodo, Omi-Adio and Ibadan.
The Minister said the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is committed to building a lasting legacy of massive infrastructural development, particularly, rail, roads and bridges.
He said prior to 1986, Nigeria had a total of 3,105 km of railway divided into two – Western Corridor Lagos to Kano and the Eastern Corridor from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
“For many decades nothing was done to improve on the rail facilities.
“It was only in 2009 that the Federal Government then said that there will be a two prong approach – rehabilitation of the single track and the construction of the standard gauge.
“It is to the credit of this administration that the Itakpe- Ajaokuta-Warri 312km rail line which commenced in 1987 only came to reality this week when on Tuesday the president virtually commissioned the rail after 33 years.
“It is now to be extended to Abuja and Warri port complex.
“It was also when we came in that we completed the 175km Abuja-Kaduna rail line which was first commenced in 2011 but which the administration took over and completed in 2016.
“This shows that within the period of about five years, in the area of rail alone, the government has done a lot,” he said.
Mohammed said the original concept of the Itakpe-Aladja-Warri rail corridor was to evacuate the mineral deposit, finished products from steel complexes .
He said the project was meant for the steel complexes in the axis and exclusively for cargo movement.
Mohammed said the Buhari Administration redesigned the rail project to include passengers and other services.
“Nothing opens up a country like transportation, especially rail transportation; you can imagine the amount of economy that will be created along that corridor,” he said.
The Minister noted that despite challenges, Nigeria has a lot to celebrate at 60 and the citizens should endeavour to emphasis the positive development rather than the negative trend.
“We will be very unfair to ourselves when we look at the level of infrastructure development in Nigeria especially during this administration and we are saying we are not making progress.
“If other governmentb can follow up on what a previous government has done, there will be steady development,” he said.
Mohammed gave credit to the Buhari administration for adopting to embrace, focus and finish every project it inherited.