Senator Gbenga Ashafa representing Lagos East Senatorial District in the National Assembly has commended the Federal Ministry of Transport, Nigeria Railway Corporation and China Civil and Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) for their commitment towards the revitalisation of Nigeria Rail.
Ashafa, who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport made this statement while addressing newsmen at the weekend during the Joint Senate and House of Representatives oversight visit to the Headquarters` of the Nigeria Railway Corporation in Lagos and inspection of the work being done at the Lagos-Ibadan segment of the rail revitalization project.
He said “Let me commend the Ministry of Transport, the NRC and CCECC for the commitment they have displayed towards the actualisation of the rail revitalisation agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I would also like thank the Federal Government for their effort in ensuring that capital releases are being made towards ensuring the timely completion of the project. This project when completed will transform into not just infrastructural development in the country but a massive boost in our economy and creation of Thousands of Jobs for Nigerians. I am particularly happy that Lagosains will benefit immensely from this project when it is completed”
The lawmaker during his address intimated that the purpose of their visit was not simply to look at the books but to actually see for themselves the progress of the work being done.
He said “In the past three years, we have worked together as partners in the rail revitalisation agenda of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. This revitalisation agenda has proven to be at the heart of the infrastructural development programmes of the President and therefore I must say that what we are here to do today is beyond looking into the books and questioning your application of appropriated estimates. We are here to confirm the progress we are seeing on paper, prepare a score card and come up with workable strategies that would enable us finish strong as a team in 2019”
During the Inspection Lagos-Ibadan segment of the project Ashafa expressed his satisfaction over the progress of the work done so far but expressed his doubt as to the completion of the project by end of year 2018.
He said “From what I have seen so far, I can say that much effort has been put into this project by all parties involved. I know that the yearning for the expedited completion of the Lagos to Ibadan portion of this project is growing louder due to the satisfaction and comfort being enjoyed from the Abuja to Kaduna Standard Gauge railway” .
“In my opinion going by what is on ground I do not honestly think we will be able to meet the deadline of December 2018. We may be looking towards its completion in 2019. I can however assure Nigerians that work will not stop till the project is completed”
In concluding his address, Ashafa urged the NRC to channel more resources towards assisting the haulage sector of the economy, particularly in the transportation of petroleum products as it would greatly reduce the amount of casualties from recurrent and incessant tanker accidents leading to preventable infernos around the country and also asked the NRC to provide answers to the challenges being faced on significant portions of Nigeria narrow gauge rail network which does not seem to be presently functioning at its optimum”.
The oversight visit was led Ashafa and Hon. Aminu Sanni, Chairman House of Representatives Committee on Land Transport.