Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has urged the contractor handling the Lagos-Ibadan railway project, Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), to expedite action to ensure that train operations begin by February 2019.
He also urged the firm to temporarily suspend work on the construction of station buildings along the corridor of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line and focus on the laying of tracks being the major work at the moment so that by February, train operations would commence from Lagos to Abeokuta and subsequently to Ibadan.
The minister, who spoke yesterday while inspecting the rail line after the monthly meeting of the project monitoring steering committee, expressed satisfaction at the pace of work.
A statement made available to journalists and signed by the Deputy Director, Press, in the ministry, said the minister noted that the pace of work on the railway project is progressing given that there are now minimal challenges that could hinder construction work.
He, however, charged CCECC to promptly seek the support of security agencies for adequate and effective policing of their personnel and equipment as a result of incidences of community harassment on the firm and its workers as well as theft of their equipment.
In another development, the Federal Government yesterday said it planned to ban all trucks and other articulated vehicles transporting cargo along the Lagos-Ibadan highway beginning from 2019.
It said that from June, all cargo-carrying vehicles would be compelled to use the rail system as a means of transporting heavy-duty goods from Lagos to other parts of the country.
Amaechi gave the indication while briefing State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
“We believe that by next year, we will begin to encourage those who transport by trucks between Lagos and Ibadan to use the rail.
“At that point, most of the trucks carrying cargo going to Ibadan must be on the rail so that we can save the Lagos/Ibadan road,” he said.