Importers Heave A Sigh Of Relief Over CCECC Connection Of Apapa Port To Lagos- Ibadan rail Line

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By Stephen Ubanna

Rotimi Amaechi, a former governor of Rivers state  elected  on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, but later   decamped to the All Progressive Congress, APC, and now minister of Transportation  is a happy man.

.  Aamechi, who will pride himself as the Nigerian minister of Railway, source of happiness is the fact that the state owned  China Civil  Engineering and Construction Corporation , CCECC, has  officially  linked the Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line to the premier port, Apapa.

The Company had tweeted  on Monday,  January 25, 2021, that  with the successful  completion  of the super structure  of the last  group  of 25 meter  monolithic  track be of the bulk cargo line  of Apapa port , the Lagos –Ibadan  rail Line constructed by the CCECC,  has officially been connected  to the Nigerian Premier port, Apapa, described as the largest Container port in the West African sub-region.

The Apapa  port  branch line of the Railway, according to an informed Nigerian Railway sources   starts from  the Lagos station and extends  southward to Apapa port of Lagos, with a total  Length of   8’72 Km. Many see the rail line connecting the Apapa port   as a big relief to importers and exporters in the south west states of Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Ogun , particular in the  import and export of their goods through the seaportthrogh railway Transportation.

The CCECC  had said that at the beginning linking the Apapa port  was a hard nut to Crack  because of the difficulty of demolition  and external interference  that was beyond human imagination  but the obstacles  affecting the project  were removed one  by one to allow the project  to go o on.

Amaechi: Minister Of Transportation

Recall that Amaechi , had given the officials of the CCECC,  the end of January 2021,   to connect the Apapa port to the rail line .  Hear him:  we analysed the synergy  between  the port and the rail lines. decongesting the Apapa port,  and looked at the detailed plan  for offloading  cargo  into the rail trains.  had

 This may have informed why the Company Engineers attached more importance    to the ministerial directive  to  achieve the task goal  of opening the Apapa port  for rail  services by the end of January 2021. The Company was said to have organised a Team to work day and night  and Cooperate with each other  to Complete the construction of culverts, the laying of nine groups of turnouts and the completion of 2.2 Kms  in one one month, the paving  of ballasted  track and the pouring  of 793 Kms monolithic  track bed in connecting  the branch line to the Apapa port. This may be in keeping with the minister’s order  that they should increase  their speed of work at  the Apapa axis of   the rail project  in order to reach the Completion  before the January 30, 2021, planned Commissioning.

The Apapa port , going by the Nigerian ports records  is responsible  for 70-80% of the country’s  import and export  cargo transportation. Amaechi , may have gladdened the heart of Lagosians when he disclosed that the moment  the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC,  starts the movement  of cargo from Lagos to Ibadan,  it would go a long way  to reduce drastically  the gridlock  in Apapa.

 Going by the level of work that had been done on the Lagos-Ibadan  rail project, by the CCECC, may have given the minister  the confidence  that the perennnial gridlock  in Apapa and its environs   would com to an end  between now and March 30, 2021.  Recall that the minister had told President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General,  that the Commissioning of the  the Apapa axis of the Lagos-Ibadan rail  line would be at the end of January 2021.  He was said to have repeatedly told the Katsina state born Nigerian President  that the he is working  towards  achieving that time but that was how far he could go.

Perhaps, to ensure that the goal post for the Commissioning of the Lagos- Ibadan which had been  connected to the Apapa port was not shifted again,  Amaechi who could not hide his feelings  had urged officials of APMT, to Cooperate with the CCECC, the Chinese firm handling  the Ebuta Metta-Apapa port rail line extension process to ensure its Completion. This may have informed why the project is going on uninterrupted as all hands are on deck to ensure the Commissioning of the Apapa port axis of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project.     

  In spite  of the fact that the Apapa port axis of the Lagos –Ibadan project has been completed,  Amaechi, may have shocked Nigerians when he said that  the sum of $656 million  would be needed to  complete the Lagos- Ibadan rail project. He had said  that the amount would be needed  to put in place the necessary infrastructural facilities  for  the project to serve its intended  purpose. Given an update on the progress of work of the Lagos –Ibadan  rail project  while defending he ministry 2021 budget proposal,  the minister , who has equaled records of Nyensom Wike, both as minister and governor in the oil –rich Rivers state   , had old the Lawmakers.

 The worry of many was why an additional  sum of $656 million would be  spent on the 156.65 Km standard gauge rail line from  Lagos-Ibadan project which had already gulped $1.6 billion, between 2006 and 2017, going by the minister’s revelation and which had reached  almost  92% Completion require such  an additual huge amount of  money to facilitate its Completion.

It is instructive to note that  the Lagos-Ibadan rail line  was the first part  of  a new 2,733Km Lagos-Kano  standard gauge. Rcall that  the CCECC was awarded  the  Contract to build  the Lagos –Kano  rail line at a cost of $8.3 billion by the then Administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan. But the Administration could not go ahead with the project  due to paucity of funds.

There had been a lot of Controversy over the 2,733 Km new rail standard gauge  rail line project in the country . Amaechi had said that  the Cntract was originally  awarded  to the  CCECC by the  then Jonathan Administration for  $11.97 billion  but the Buhari Administration negotiated it down to $11.17 billion, making a savings of $800million for the country. The $11.17 billion 2,733Km standard gauge rail project  which is to be funded by the Nigerian government and China  was originally  scheduled  to be completed between 18 months and two years in a six phase manner but had dragged on till now.                     

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