From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the Federal Government has mobilised to site the contractors handling the Central Railway Line and the Itakpe/Ajaokuta Railway Line.0
The former governor of Rivers said the contractor has assured that the project would be completed by the first quarter of next year.
“The other mandate that will interest you is the Central Railway Line, the Itakpe/Ajaokuta Railway Line. If you go back there now the contractors are back to site. We have sent them back to site. That is a 32-year project. Under this government, we have decided and agreed with the contractors that we will complete it first quarter of next year.
“The other thing that will interest you is the Narrow Gauge Railway Line that transverses your state (Kwara) to Minna. We are about to start negotiations with General Electric (GE). The Narrow Gauge will start if we successfully conclude our conversation. Before the end of this year, from Lagos to Ajaokuta to Ibadan to Ilorin to Minna and onward to Kano we will revive that railway line.
“We believe that between the first and second quarters we would have completed the negotiations and you will see more activities on the train. Once we conclude it, it will create employment. The other one that will also interest you is the Standard Gauge which everybody is clamouring for.
“We have awarded the contract for the Lagos to Ibadan Standard Gauge Line. By the time they complete that, we will be awarding Ibadan to Ilorin and the prayer you should make is to ask the National Assembly to kindly approve for us the borrowing plan that was sent to them.
“Out of that borrowing plan, $6.1billion is meant for railway. For the Lagos to Ibadan, you have 1.5 billion dollars. The loan has been approved by the China Exim Bank, the only thing holding us today is that the NASS is yet to approve the borrowing plan,” he said.
He insisted that there was no going back on the planned closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport for the repair of the runway
“We are saying that the Abuja Airport runway was built to last for 20 years but we have been using it for thirty four years. It has become extremely dangerous to continue using it, the way it is right now. We need to close it to rebuild and reconstruct it. The foundation is almost gone and what we are asking for is patience. If we don’t close it we will be exposing lives to danger. One of the constitutional responsibilities of the president is to protect lives and property.
“So you can’t deny us that responsibility. We believe that if we close it by March, in six weeks’ time we shall be able to reopen it. We know it is challenging for our economy. We think that we will keep to that six weeks,” he said. On issues concerning maritime, particularly in the North Central, Amaechi noted that his ministry was determined to commission the Baro River Port by the first quarter of next year.
“We met abandoned maritime. Our target is that by first quarter of next year we shall be commissioning Baro River Port. We are in the process of awarding the contract for the last equipment that they will use at the River Port. NIWA is working hard. I understand the sentiments of Baro.
“The only reason we have not got the contractor at Lokoja part is that we don’t trust the contractor and I have directed NIWA to go and look for the process of terminating that contract and get a new contractor to complete the project and that mandate, we have from Mr. President.
NEMA: 1,000 medical doctors engaged for emergencies
From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
No fewer than 1,000 medical doctors would be engaged by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to handle emergency cases in the North-East and other trouble areas in Nigeria.
The arrangement was an outcome of a meeting between the agency and the doctors under the umbrella of Society for Family Physicians of Nigeria.
NEMA spokesman, Sani Datti, in a statement yesterday explained that the doctors would among other things conduct health needs assessment for preventive, curative and rehabilitation of the displaced persons in the northeast and also offer medical consultation in the camps.
NEMA Director General, Muhammad Sani Sidi expressed gratitude to the Federal Government for assisting the IDPs in North-East, contrary to belief that it was the sole responsibility of NEMA to cater for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
He stressed that NEMA was consistently in touch with the victims of disaster in areas of health requirements through federal and state ministries of health, adding that the agency has also been paying for medical referral for IDPs in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
NEMA was established via Act 12 as amended by Act 50 of 1999, to manage disasters in Nigeria. Its establishment ushered in a new dawn in disaster management from the hitherto narrow practice of relief distribution.
Niger Delta: FG recommits to N’Delta development
From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Federal Government has made another commitment towards the restoration of peace and development in the oil rich Niger Delta region.
The new commitment, according to Minister of Niger Delta, Usani Uguru Usani, would bring all stakeholders to a discussion table to consolidate the peace building process through coordinated plan of action that would positively touch all communities in the region.
To this end, government charged all concerned including the traditional rulers to make similar commitment in order to achieve the Federal Government plan of massive infrastructural and human development in the region.
The Minister told journalists in Abuja that gone were the days when stakeholders played the role of fifth columnist and secretly sabotaged efforts of government in realising its target goal in the peace region.
The peace of the region which is responsible for larger percentage of Nigeria’s foreigner exchange, through the sale of crude oil came under attack shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari took over office in 2015, with the resurgence of militancy activities resulting in the destruction of oil installations belonging to Nigerian government and other International Oil Companies (IOCs)
Uguru, at a recent meeting with the IOCs and state government representatives agreed on modalities that would hasten the infrastructural and human capital development in Niger Delta region.
They equally agreed to uproot corruption in the system which they claimed has been responsible for the snail pace of development in the region, urging them to uphold transparency and accountability in official dealings.
NBRRI: Why NBRRI launched engineering soil atlas-DG
From Magnus Eze, Abuja
Director General of the Nigerian Building and Roads Research Institute (NBRRI), Prof. Danladi Matawal said the recently launched soil atlas would help in decision making for planning and design.
According to him, construction can be expedited through prior knowledge of the nature and types of soils to be encountered in a chosen location in the country right from the conception stage.
Matawal noted that the significance of the atlas would be better appreciated if Nigerians were aware that every man-made project, except rocket in space, has its foundation inside the soil.
He stated that a soil map was germane to engineering as every stakeholder would have a preliminary guide for decisions and the need for specific detailed spot for exploration works and projects.
According to him, a general knowledge of the soil types and their engineering classifications was of paramount significance to the developmental aspirations of the country.
“The atlas is paramount importance, the zoning of soils in this maps was done using the Unified Soil Classification System (USCS) based on precision tests,” the DG stated.
Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Gooney Onu had on January 31, launched the first edition of Engineering Sub Grade Soils Atlas of Nigeria produced by the NBRRI.
He said the soil atlas would be an invaluable aid to road planners, designers and even contractors who can obtain prior insights of the types of sub grade soil available across the nation.