Lagos-Ibadan standard rail: Between CCECC’s pace and NRC’s readiness
The long awaited delivery of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge project has been a dilemma considering the issues bedevilling its completion. In this report, BENJAMIN ALADE examines cause of the delay amidst its readiness for commercial activities.
Despite the delay that marred the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge project, the China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC) said it has completed the laying of the double tracks of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge project to Ebute-Metta Junction (EBJ) inside the premises of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) in Lagos.
Expected to be completed earlier in May, the COVID- 19, which has become a global health challenge, threatened its completion. However, the $1.5bn project has been repeatedly facing delays since it was first signed into agreement in 2012.
As Nigerians await the commencement of commercial activities on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge project, The Guardian reports that with the completion of the tracks laying, the contractor is set to continue from EBJ to the nation’s premier ports, Apapa, a feat that would transform the nation’s economic landscape, enable massive movement of cargoes and ease port congestion.
It is also expected to enable the freight of consumer goods and refined petroleum products via the rail track from the port to the hinterland and other parts of the country.
Commuters and residents of Apapa see the laying of the track as a wholesome development that will resolve the perennial gridlock caused by the craters on the road coupled with the reckless attitude of tanker and heavy duty drivers that ply the route to transport fuel and goods from the port.
Pedestrians on that axis are subjected to harrowing experience every day. Besides the irritating attitude of the tanker drivers, there is also the risk of commuters either being killed or incurring life haunting injuries, when containers that are barely strapped to the rickety trucks randomly fall on moving vehicles.
Essentially, there will also be a reduction in the sheer volume of articulated vehicles that ply the Lagos- Ibadan highway, to deliver goods as the train will provide a faster and efficient alternative means of transporting goods across the country.
As a result, the road life span will increase while the cost of road maintenance will be reduced to the barest minimum.
The Guardian checks on the status of these stations showed some readiness on the part of the contractor to deliver on the project.
Gone forever in all the areas visited are the decrepit structures that hitherto served as stations. In place are structures that are befitting and will complement the rolling stock that will be deployed for passenger and freight services once the project is completed.
Project Manager, Stations, CCECC, Li Depeng, said the EBJ station is 70 per cent completed and the minor stations have been completed with internal work being carried out in Agege, Agbado, Kajola, Papalanto and Omi Adio stations.
Track laying has been completed between Ebute-Metta Junction in Lagos and Ibadan while work is still ongoing at the 11 stations along the train corridor.
The stations are Apapa, Ebute-Meta, Ikeja, Agege, Agbado, Kajola, Papalanto, Abeokuta, Olodo, Omi-Adio and Ibadan.The Managing Director, NRC, Fidet Okhiria, had disclosed that 16 trips will be made per day between Yaba in Lagos and Ibadan.
According to Okhiria, 24 coaches, and a set of Diesel Multiple Units (DMUs) made of eight coaches had been acquired for the purpose.
The long term benefits for Lagos, Ogun and Oyo States can only be imagined. In a nutshell, the railway will ease the pressure on Lagos, creating a potential industrial hub in the southern part of Ogun, which is rich in a swathe of unexplored land.
The design has provision for freight yards at Apapa, Kajola and Ibadan in addition to Rolling stock workshop and depots at Kajola, Abeokuta and Omi-Adio.
The rolling stock workshop under construction in Kajola will serve as a rail wagon assembly plant. The plant, the first of its kind in the country will generate about 5,000 direct and indirect jobs when completed while also boosting socio-economic activities.
It is central in the production of spare parts and maintenance of equipment needed for the railway modernisation programme. It will also produce some parts of the wagons for the Abuja-Kaduna rail line.
The track from Lagos to Ibadan is 156 kilometres in length while the train will cruise at the top speed of 150km per hour. Upon completion, the infrastructure will boast of 21 bridges, 40 vehicular overpasses, 27 pedestrian bridges and 147 major culverts and under passes.
Project External Liaison, CCECC, Yakubu Adogie, said: “If you go to most of the stations presently, the equipment for the signal applications are being installed already, their fibre optics has been laid and all these are in various degrees of work.
According to Adogie, serious work is ongoing inside Apapa port and while also tracks are being laid presently towards the Apapa end, stating that one of the slowing issues which the contractor is experiencing is the issue of the traffic situations within Lagos state.
“Now, we have not been able to cross the Costain Bridge, Brewery to Apapa end. The bridge we are constructing, which will replace the one that was demolished as almost been completed and we want to see that lane for traffic users before we continue the track work towards the Nigerian Brewery to Iganmu end but from inside the port serious work is going on already, tracks has been laid inside the port, coming out.
“So we just have a little section where due to traffic situations within Apapa area, which we are concerned about. And I am sure by the time we are able to open the lane for the section of the bridge, we will be able to fast track the work. The sub grade has been prepared but we know the traffic chaos in Lagos presently. So we don’t want a situation whereby we will contribute to the headache people are facing presently in Lagos,” he said.
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