No fewer than 60 persons working at the Lagos-Ibadan rail project site have been infected by COVID-19.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who disclosed this in Abuja on Monday, said the development has affected the timely completion of the rail project, thus leading to the postponement of the planned inauguration of the rail line this month.
He said, “First let us admit that over 60 of our staff, not Ministry of Transport staff, but the staff working on the rail project, have been infected by COVID-19. Luckily nobody has died and I pray nobody will die but you see the kind of sacrifice everybody is making to get the rail to function.
“They are people sacrificing their lives to get to that point. We are of the view when we made that decision that Nigeria will not say 2020 was a bad year, so remove one year and add another year to Buhari administration.
“As far as we are concern, we need to learn how to live with COVID-19. I really want to congratulate those that achieve that feat, we were to inaugurate first week in January.
“We had to stop those doing minor completion because of the rise in COVID-19 transmission. The timeline for inauguration will depend on COVID-19. If COVID-19 stop today or reduces we will commission the project.”
Amaechi also said that train services may be discontinued on all routes if passengers do not adhere to COVID-19 protocol.
“We will allow the train to run but if we see that we are conveying passengers who have COVID-19 from Lagos to Ibadan, we will stop it. Just like we are threatening to stop Kaduna-Abuja if people don’t comply with the COVID-19 protocol,” he said.
He said that the Abuja-Kaduna route convey about 4,000 passengers daily, stating that if anyone transmits COVID-19 onboard, it would be “a serious challenge”.
FG signs MoU on $1.96bn Kano-Niger Republic rail project
Meanwhile the Federal Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with an engineering and construction company, Mota-Engil Group, for the construction of $1.959 billion Kano to Maradi (Niger Republic) rail line project.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, signed the agreement on behalf of Nigeria while the Managing Director of Mota- Engil, Antonio Gvoea, signed on behalf of the firm in Abuja.
The new rail line, located in northern Nigeria, will run through Kano, Jigawa and Katsina states and terminate in the territory of Niger Republic.
It will link cities such as Danbatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina and Jibiya in Nigeria.
“The 283.750 kilometre rail line besides developing freight and passenger transport as it will be integrated with road transport, will make a great contribution to the local economy as well as an important development in the social sector,” a statement by Eric Ejiekwe, Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Transportation (FMOT), quoted Amaechi to have said.
The statement noted that the project will be completed in 3 years.
The signing was witnessed by the Permanent Secretary, FMOT, Magdalene Ajani; and Nigeria’s Ambassador to Germany, Yusuf Tuggar, among other officials.