The Federal government has issued a marching order to the management of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) and its board chairman to recover the property belonging to the corporation at the Lagos, Apapa Port Railway Station vicinities as soon as possible.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, who handed the order during the routine inspection of the ongoing Apapa-Ebute Metta-Iju railway project, also directed the authority concerned to immediately take inventory of the buildings to ascertain those that have been leased, sold, abandoned and those who lease period have expired.
“They are property belonging to NRC and we have directed that they should not do evaluation but also identify ownership of the property. For those legally leased out, we have no choice than to pay. For those who lease have expired, the owners have no choice than to hand them over to us. The summary is that we have to do an audit and ensure the recovery of those property,” he said.
On the challenges hindering NRC from moving cargoes from the Apapa Port, he said: “We are yet to construct Standard gauge and the narrow gauge is not functioning at its capacity. Until those things happen, we cannot move enough cargoes.
“Currently, we are moving between 2,000 and 3,000 tons of cargo in a year when we have about 30 million tons of cargo in a year. If we have such volumes of cargo, we have to ensure that the tracks function very well to ensure effective movement of the cargo.”
He equally spoke on the closeness of the tank farm, belonging to A-Z Oil, to the Apapa Railway Station. He said that the concerned authorities have been ordered experts to into it and report to the Federal government, expressing fears that the closeness and the inflammatory capacity pose a threat to the station users.
“We just noticed it now and I don’t think that as a minister, I should take immediate decision on this. We have therefore, directed the experts to look into it and report and brief us on what to do about it,” he said.
On the delay in the construction of the flyover at Costain, he said that apart from the demolition of two buildings around Ipori police station and compensation paid to the owners by the Lagos State government, the arrangement is to first complete the laying of the tracks to Ibadan before facing the project from Iju to Apapa.
“What we want to do is to compel them to complete the civil works to Ibadan by the end of this month, then they will come back to Iju, from there to Ebuta Metta to Apapa. As for the building obstructing the construction of the flyover, we will formally write to the state government to hear from them why the compensation has not been paid and why the building has not been demolished.
“Don’t forget that they promised to pay the compensation. As a former governor of a state, I know that it takes time for the system to bring out money. It takes time and processes. It is not Ambode’s government but Lagos State government that promised. Whatever decision taken previously is binding on the new government,” he said.
The minister equally reacted to the proposed demolition of Ijora and Jibowu bridges, stressing: “We cannot demolish any of the bridges without completing the construction. Lagos is such a mega city that you can cause heavy traffic crisis demolishing before building. We will first finish construction before we demolish the Jibowu bridge. They have started with Costain and when they finish, we will get the traffic to the new bridge before demolishing the old one,” he said.