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Government urges completion of central railway line


Rotimi Amaechi

To begin commercial activities by June 2018

The Federal Government has urged the contractors handling Itapke-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line to complete it to allow commercial activities to begin by June 2018.

The Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amechi gave the directive while inspecting ongoing work by Julius Berger Construction Company at the Agbor-Abraka segment of the project.

He said the railway, which was abandoned in the last 34 years, would connect the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) to Kogi, Edo and Delta states.Amaechi explained that Julius Berger had been directed in December 2016 to mobilise back to site to complete the construction of over-pass bridges in the rail.

He said the bridges would ensure that people do not interfere with activities on the rail tracks, as the trains would be moving at a speed rate of 150-180kilometre per hour.

He stressed that the work was withdrawn from Julius Berger and re-awarded to the Chinese Engineering Civil Construction Company (CECC) because it had earlier moved its equipment out of the site.

He said: “Julius Berger told us that it would cost them more to mobilise back to site as they had moved equipment to Germany, hence it was re-awarded to the CECC that is currently handling the project.”

Amaechi further stated that although the railway had been completed, the Itapke-Ajaokuta axis was vandalised, hence it would be re-awarded to CECC, if approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

The minister said there would also be the need for the construction and renovation of some of the facilities that would make the rail line to function properly. He lamented that Nigeria would have been the first to have a standard gauge railway in West Africa, if the contract was completed 34 years ago.

The site engineer, Mr. David Imafidon attested to the value of the rail, which he said would be the commercial nerve centre of the country.The rail line contract was awarded to Julius Berger in 1997 by the late Sani Abacha’s administration, but had remained abandoned since 2003 due to the scarcity of funds.

It was reported that the agreement with an Indian firm, Global Cooperation Nigerian ltd (JINL) was suspended because the firm was allegedly using the train to convey goods out of the country.

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Rotimi Amechi
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