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Fastrack Lagos-Ibadan rail project, Amaechi tasks CCECC

Rotimi Amaechi

Disturbed over the slow pace of work on the Lagos-Ibadan railway project, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has charged the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) to deploy more men and equipment in order to fast-track the project, especially along the Ebute-Metta to Apapa seaport corridor.

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Amaechi

The minister gave the charge during the weekend after he undertook an emergency inspection of the project in the company of the Chairman of the CCECC Group, Zhao Dialong, who was on a working visit to the country.

While appreciating the level of work done in just four days after the last inspection, the minister said: “The last time we were here, I complained about the fact that they were very slow and when their chairman told me that he was coming to visit, I requested that we go to the project site and see how far they have gone. There is remarkable progress from the day we came till now.

“Moving forward, we have been saying that they should add to their manpower and deploy more equipment that commiserates with the volume of work on ground.”

Responding to whether the completion date of the project is still feasible, Amaechi said that “as far as l am concerned (mentally), I’m almost out of Lagos. I’m critically trying to focus on Kano-Kaduna, Ibadan-Ilorin, Ilorin to Minna and then to Abuja.”

On the legal implications of not delivering the project at the stipulated time, the minister advised that rather than look at the law, emphasis should be on practicality.

“The issue about non-completion of the project at the stipulated time frame is complex. The original time for the expiration of the contract is May.

“But, you see they made an argument which you cannot also fault; the argument they made was for additional works which gave them up to six months, so if you add the six months to the May expiration date, you are probably talking about next year.

“So, instead of looking at the law, we should look more on practicality and compel them to speed up the pace of work,” Amaechi added.

According to him, these additional works include the minor stations and the underpasses which were not part of the first contractual agreement and were only added as after-thought to address the nagging problem of the Apapa gridlock.

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Chairman, CCECC Group, Zhao Dialong said changes in project location affected the completion of the stations and tracks, adding that “we initially designed the projects so that the tracks will be done simultaneously with the stations; we even planned to finish the stations first, but we failed because of changes in location,” he explained.

Reacting to the minister’s accusation that even materials that can be sourced locally are being brought from China, he explained that most of the materials and equipment for the project cannot be sourced locally.

Furthermore, he appealed to the minister to intervene in the company’s inability to berth their vessels due to the perennial long queues at the seaports in Lagos.

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