The minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari is not undertaking the $1.5billion Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail project to garner political mileage in the just concluded elections.
He said with or without the rail project, he was convinced the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) would win the Presidential election.
Amaechi stated this while speaking with newsmen during the inspection of the 157-kilometer project being undertaken by the China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC).
The inspection took the minister and his team comprising the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Engr. Fidet Okhiria and Senior officials of the Transport Ministry to Ibadan.
Daily Trust reports that prior to the election, the contractor was under intense pressure to deliver the three-year project in less than two years fuelling speculations that it was being targeted for electioneering.
But it is far from that, according to Amaechi. He said the concern of the government was to remove congestion at the Lagos Sea Port, minimize traffic snarls on Lagos road as most cargoes would now be moved by rail.
Therefore, he said the contractor was being pushed to deliver the project in one and half years.
He said, “As a minister for Transport, you are minister for Transport for PDP and APC. It (the rail project) wasn’t about APC. I have always known that we would win.
“The problem is that there is too much congestion at the Sea Port. There is gridlock in Lagos. The moment you finish this rail before December, because after this one, we have to face Ebute-Metta to Apapa.
“The moment we finish it, nearly all the cargoes would be on the track and once you put nearly all the cargoes on the track, you have resolved the gridlock and also resolved the issue of congestion at the Sea Port. That will create employment, economic growth and that is the target of the government. It is not about APC.”
Amaechi assured that all things been equal, the contactor should conclude the laying of tracks from Lagos to Ibadan before facing the Ebute-Metta-Apapa Sea Port axis.
He commended the contractor for the job done so far but urged it to speed up the pace of work especially in Ibadan axis. He said they should deploy more equipment to fast-track the work.
The minister said: “What we are saying is that the pace of work at Kilometre 110 to 121 and Kilometre 124 to 157 appears to be slow but they have promised to increase their speed. It has to do essentially with equipment.
“And we have given them a target that by the next inspection which is between 8th and 9th of May they should get to Kilometre 121 and 130”.