President Muhammadu Buhari would soon perform virtual commissioning of the Itakpe/Warri standard gauge railway for commercial use 32 years after it was abandoned by successive governments, Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has said.
Amaechi, who spoke during a tour of the project facility in Agbor and Warri, Delta State on Saturday, commended the contractors, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, (CCECC), Technique Engineering, Architecture, Marketing (TEAM) and Julius Berger for living up to expectations in terms of quality delivery on the project.
“We are planning for the President to perform a virtual commissioning of this project. The contractors have since concluded their jobs and left the site, the only contractor left is the CCECC, and they will soon leave as well and hand over to NRC. We’ll know if NRC has done a good job when they manage it properly because the issue is maintenance. I am satisfied with the job done by CCECC, TEAM and Julius Berger. The contractors must be commended for a good job delivery,” he said.
Amaechi also restated that out of the 10 stations completed, President Buhari had approved that the main station in Agbor be named after former President Goodluck Jonathan.
On the safety of passengers as regards the coronavirus pandemic, Amaechi explained that proactive measures would be put in place by the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) to protect the lives of all passengers.
He said there would be strict adherence to guidelines and procedures put in place by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 by the passengers.
“We are going to abide by the guidelines of the COVID-19 Tax Force. Every passenger, no matter how highly placed, must obey the rules. Everybody must wear their face masks and come with their sanitisers before boarding the train. We’ll also abide by the committee’s directive of three metre distance, that’s why we are reducing the number of passengers per coach from 88 to 40. We will also increase the number of policemen for the enforcement of law and order in all the coaches,” he said.
Amaechi assured that cargo operations would commence immediately, as soon as discussions were concluded between Dangote and Bua Cement. He said the Ajaokuta steel company and other manufacturers around that rail corridor are also expected to move their goods via the train.
Acknowledging that COVID-19 had slowed down the project delivery, particularly on the Lagos-Ibadan railway and commencement of Ibadan to Kano, the minister said the situation would not deter him from performing and delivering on his assignments.