Romanus Ugwu, who was in Warri
The Federal Government has read the riot act to China Construction Engineering Civil Company (CCECC) urging them to increase the pace of work on the ongoing Ajaokuta, Itakpe, Warri railway project or risk revocation of the contract.
Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, who handed the warning during an inspection tour of the rail project, expressed disappointment over the pace of work.
Although the engineering company blamed the pace of work on persistent rainfall, the minister noted that it has under-performed and added that there was no record of physical structure on ground for a project scheduled for commissioning next month.
“I cannot imagine coming down here by August to commission nothing since there is no physical structure sighted by the end of July. I must tell you that I am not happy and whenever I ask from all the terminals, the answer has always been, the rainy season. We cannot tolerate this any longer,” he said.
Amaechi, who commended Julius Berger for the speedy completion of Uromi and Warri terminals considered offering the company more terminals, stressing that the German construction company has been able to prove that it can put up structures regardless of the season unlike the CCECC.
“I think Julius Berger has done well to complete these terminals as scheduled and I am thinking of handing over to the company, other ones that the Chinese could not do.
“What the CCECC need to do is to come over to Abuja for discussions,” he said.
Defending the delay, the CCECC project coordinator, who declined to give his name, promised that the company will do everything possible to ensure the project is completed on schedule.
Meanwhile, appraising the extent of work done while speaking to newsmen after the inspection, the minister, said contractors must do more.
“Basically, most of these projects have been there for a long time before this administration took over. When Nigerians put us under pressure, I asked a question ‘what were the reactions of Nigerians when nobody was doing these in the past.
“If you see the files that the president has been pushing to complete every project that was started from Obasanjo, Yar’adua to Goodluck and to us.
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“Other governments won’t do that, they will start their own so that it will be remembered after them. This project we are completing has been there for over 34 years,” he said.
Addressing the total debt profile involved since the inception of the administration, he revealed that government has borrowed $1.6 billion for railways.
The minister also said the CCECC will replace the vandalised rail lines from Itakpe to Ajaokuta, noting; “government, haven built this for over 30 years some criminals just went and vandalised the rail line and what we did was to give the CCECC a contract not to only relay the tracks to Ajaokuta but also do sidings.
“We are funding Abuja-Kaduna. In total, it will come down to a billion dollars. The Chinese government gave us $500 million and we are bringing N500 million.
“We awarded a contract of $500 million for coaches and the China Exim Bank wanted to give us the money, but the president turned it down and said we should fund it ourselves and we started funding it.
“We got another $500 million to fund locomotives, the CCECC want to manufacture wagons, some of us think it will be done in Ajaokuta because of the iron ore,” he said.
On the reason for the haste in the completion of the project, he said it is basically to strengthen the economy and empower the youths.