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For almost four times the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi had given delivery date of the endless Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line, the same four times, it has failed since 2018.
The latest failure according to him is the observation during his latest tour of the scheme alongside the Governor of Oyo State that April 2020 is no more feasible.
Though the Chinese handling firm, CCECC had complained of frustrations at the Lagos ports in having their ship berth on time so as to offload their working materials, checks at the ports showed that it had been an endless experience for importers waiting for the ships carrying their goods to find berthing space due to stretched port infrastructure.
Investigations show that ships can remain stranded on the line in high seas waiting for their turn to move into the habour and berth.
Maritime security analysts say this particular scenario remains the major opportunity for sea pirates to always have field day in robbing and kidnapping Nigeria-bound ships.
However, from the point of view of the minister, it seems that all the excuses being regularly given to him by officials of the CCECC hardly sink to what the minister wants to see and even hear.
In all, opinion pool amongst prospective users of the emerging railway showed serious loss of confidence on the minister as many times he had assured, many times he has failed.
Many of them however, advised the minister to stop giving delivery deadline without getting a strong signal from the handling firm.
Business Hilights recalls that the Minister had at a yearly Corporate Dinner and Merit Awards, organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in Lagos, said “The government is implementing a transport policy, which entails linking all seaports in the country by rail, in line with global best practices. All over the world, the most efficient way to transport heavy cargo is by water and rail.
“We have a 25-year rail modernisation programme, involving the development of a comprehensive intermodal system. We are taking the rail from where the past governments stopped to the seaports. The Lagos-Kano rail line, which began from Ebute Metta, is being taken from Ebute Metta to Apapa seaport.
“We will take it from TinCan and Apapa ports to connect the new Lekki port. The rail line from Lagos to Calabar links Port Harcourt, Onne, and Warri seaports. Our goal is to have a system where importers would bring in their goods and load them on the rail that takes them to the hinterland, thus, easing the pressure on the roads and increasing their longevity.”
Giving insights on the economic significance of transportation, Amaechi said, “Adequate investment in transport infrastructure will enhance the efficiency, reliability, and capacity of the transportation system, which will, in turn, lead to lower transport costs, shorter transit times, increased business efficiency, and business expansion, as money previously spent on transport is ploughed back into business.”
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