FG Orders Lagos-Ibadan Workers To Work Day And Night.

The Federal Government has advised the contractor handling the 150-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan railway project, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, to work during the day and night to avoid the extension of the delivery date beyond December this year.

The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, on Monday stated this  after the monthly meeting of the Project Steering Committee with the CCECC team at the Papalanto rail/work station in Ogun State.

Although he acknowledged that there had been fantastic progress in the speed of work done in the last one month, he noted the rainy season would pose a major challenge.

“The rain will be a major setback on the plans. The CCECC is the company that has to find the engineering solution to this. But whether they find a solution or not, the element cannot be ignored. That’s why I advised that they should work day and night to achieve the set goals,” the minister stated.

Amaechi also said the contractor would begin the laying of the track on the new line next month, and was optimistic that the December delivery date for the $1.5bn standard gauge rail line was feasible.

According to him, a train station in Abeokuta, Ogun State, had to be moved to the North-West to avoid demolishing about 1,004 buildings in the area.

Amaechi said the biggest challenge of the project at the moment was with the Lagos corridor where many utilities such as power lines, water pipelines and bridges were on the rail’s right of way, thus hindering the construction.

He stated that some water pipelines belonging to the Lagos State Government would have to be relocated.

The minister said a committee headed by the Chairman of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Usman Abubakar, with the Managing Director, NRC, Fidet Okhiria, and representatives of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and Nigerian Army had been constituted to come up with “the best engineering solution that would have minimal impact on the people.”

The new railway is the first phase of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge line with an extension from Kaduna to Abuja. The Kaduna-Abuja extension has been completed and running, while the Lagos-Ibadan is expected to begin early next year, with the loan request for the project already forwarded to the China Exim Bank for approval.

Lagos-Ibadan Rail: FG To Evade Destruction Of 1400 Houses

He spoke to journalists on Monday in Ibadan, Oyo State, after a meeting with officials of the contractor handling the project, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, said the Federal Government would thus be saving about N2.8bn needed to compensate the affected people.

He stated that the contractor had been advised to see the alternatives to demolishing the 1,400 structures among several buildings on the new line’s right of way.

Amaechi said, “What we have suggested today is that they should review the location of the train station in Abeokuta to avoid an area where we have too many buildings. If you observe, when we visited the area where we have so many buildings on the proposed station site of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project in Abeokuta, towards the left of that area is a huge expanse of land that has fewer or no structures on it.

“We have told the contractor to look at the possible option of going towards the left, instead of going through the MKO Abiola Complex (in Abeokuta) and running through buildings behind it. It doesn’t involve any new engineering structure. All they need do is move towards the left of the MKO Abiola Complex so that the path of the standard gauge project will avoid an area where we have too many houses.

“If we agree to go towards the left of the MKO Abiola Complex, then we won’t be paying N2.8bn as compensation to property owners because we would have avoided where we have concentration of too many houses and that would have reduced the project cost eventually. And by that, we will allow the people to live in peace.”

The minister, however, admitted that he was under intense pressure to deliver the new railway project in December this year, adding that the challenges being encountered in Lagos were enormous.

Amaechi stated, “In Lagos, we have set up a committee to be chaired by the Chairman of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, with (representatives of) the CCECC, the Nigerian Army and the Lagos State Government as members. This is because the Lagos State challenges are huge. We have oil pipelines and water pipelines, some belonging to the NNPC, some belonging to private investors and some belonging to the Lagos State Government.

“The committee members are to look at possible solutions to the problems, having at the back of their minds the deadline target of December 2018.”

Two Lagos bridges and a flyover at Ijoko, Ogun State, also marked for demotion among other right of way issues, caused the initial suspension of the project last year.

The new Lagos-Ibadan rail, spanning 156.65 kilometres, is a double line, which is the first phase of the 2,733km new Lagos-Kano rail line, and is expected to be linked with the Kaduna-Abuja standard gauge railway recently completed and now running.

Wike Accuses FG For Poor Governance And State-Sponsored Repression

The Rivers State Governor  Nyesom Wike yesterday tackled President Muhammadu Buhari, Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi and Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

Wike accused the Federal Government of poor governance, nepotism, marginalisation and state-sponsored repression.

The governor alleged that impunity, political intimidation, economic sabotage, state repression, election rigging and abuse of power were wrong, not only against Rivers but wrongs against the country.

Wike spoke yesterday at Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital while opening the 13th All Nigeria Editors’ Conference (ANEC) and Extraordinary Convention of the Nigeria Guild of Editors (NGE), with the theme: “Nigerian Media: Balancing Professionalism, Advocacy and Business.”

The conference, which ought to have been hosted by Bauchi State, was chaired by Alhaji Ismaila Isa Funtua and had in attendance a former Governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba; Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Nation, Mr. Victor Ifijeh; and a former Acting Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mrs. Ibim Semenitari; while the keynote speaker was Mr. Azubuike Ishiekwene.

Rivers governor said: “We do believe that these recurrent acts of impunity, political intimidation, economic sabotage, state repression, election rigging and abuse of power are wrong not only against Rivers State, they are wrongs against the country.

“We are only pretending we think that all is well with our country. The country is in crisis, as poor governance, nepotism, marginalisation and state-sponsored repression continue to do violence to the nation’s unity and cohesion.

“At a time as this, the country needs forthright leadership and consensus building to steer the ship of state from the wrong direction it is headed, to safer grounds.

“Nigerians of goodwill must, therefore, call the minister of Information to stop stoking the embers of disharmony and divisions in the polity with his irresponsible utterances and wild allegations against members of opposition political parties.

“Today, the clamour for political restructuring, fiscal federalism, state police and guarantee for free and fair elections have never been this determined across the country and will never go away. It is becoming clearer by the day that to ignore these calls is pretentiously dangerous to the unity and the peaceful co-existence of this country.

“History teaches us that freedom will never prevail unless those who long for it are willing and ready to insist upon its value and have the courage to speak out against what they know is wrong.”

Chairman of the occasion, in his remarks, noted that the Rivers governor did something that had not been done in the history of NGE, by hosting the conference back-to-back, stating that making the media one’s friend will not mean that the public office holders and others will not be criticised or condemned when they performed below expectations or messed up.

Funtua stated that many journalists, like civil servants, had not been paid for many months, because the money is not there  while calling for financial independence of the media, in order to earn the respect of society, noting that Osoba did a lot to keep the media together.

The NPAN president, while also speaking, stated that as long as online and social media were dominated by fake news, the traditional media will continue to thrive.

President of NUJ declared that journalists should be able to carve a niche for themselves and stop being beggarly, to be respected.

Chairman of Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, in his goodwill message, assured NGE of continuous support of the National Assembly, especially the Senate.

Bayelsa Information commissioner insisted that Nigeria’s unity was negotiable and called for restructuring, to move forward, while believing in one Nigeria.

NAWOJ president urged National Assembly to legislate on media salary and to take the issue seriously while adding that there is a need for peaceful co-existence in Nigeria.

The keynote speaker declared that NGE members must first get honest and ethical journalism right before they can balance professionalism, advocacy and business while maintaining that journalists, especially editors, must free themselves from politicians.

In her welcome address, Egbemode said: “The Editor in Nigeria gives his heart and soul for years. He works impossible hours and labours under the yoke of deadlines for poor remuneration. Then he wakes up one day and he is out of a job. He has no saving. He is not equipped for anything else outside the newsroom. He is stranded and abandoned by the job he gave everything to. That is why being a veteran journalist is not a title of honour. It is a euphemism for being broke and poor.

“Ours is a besieged and beleaguered industry. Both the profession and the professionals are not in a good place right now. The recession may be receding in other sectors, but in the media, hardly so. Indeed, our recession predates the nationally recognised one. We have been in a bad place for a long time and right now, we all can feel the ground shift under our shaking legs. We take care of everybody else’s interest. We watch out for everybody and we have always done that for years.

“This year, it is all about us, our profession, our fate and our economy, as we navigate the testy thirsty waters that threaten to sweep us into a fast-moving current. This ANEC is for us to assess where we are and find a way to safety. “

The president of NGE also expressed gratitude to Wike and Rivers, for not just hosting the conference back-to-back, but also because the governor accepted to do so with less than six weeks notice.

Amaechi Summoned over ‘exclusion of eastern rail lines’ from upgrade

In April 2017 President Muhammadu Buhar had sent a letter to the national assembly seeking the approval of the lawmakers to borrow $5.851 billion for the upgrade of various sections of the country’s railway. After the approval Enyinnaya Abaribe, a senator representing Anambra south has said the exclusion of the eastern section that links the south-south, south-east, north-central and north-east to key cities such as Port Harcourt, Aba, Enugu, Makurdi, Lafia, Gudi, Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri is inexplicable.

The senate has summoned Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transport, to explain why the eastern corridor of the country’s rail lines was excluded from the proposed loan from the China Exim bank.

The senate has summoned Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transport, to explain why the eastern corridor of the country’s rail lines was excluded from the proposed loan from the China Exim bank.

Abaribe noted that the required loan only covers the rehabilitation of a section of the country’s rail lines.

“The loan being a federal government borrowing would be paid for by all sections of the country, therefore every section of the country should be taken into consideration.

“There is a railway master plan developed by the ministry of transport and of which such plans has not been referred to in the current borrowing plan.”

He stressed that for the railway projects to have a meaningful impact on the development of the country, it should be made to cover all parts.

Contributing to the debate Ike Ekweremadu, deputy senate president, described the omission as discriminatory.

“This is discrimination and should not be allowed to continue in this dispensation,” he said.

Kicking against the motion, Gbenga Ashafa, senate committee chairman on transport, said the information in the motion was inadequate.

He said that when the Buhari administration came on board, Aba and Onitsha were chosen for rehabilitation of rail lines passing through the cities.

“What the government is doing is the right thing, you have to negotiate the loans before you start a project,” Ashafa said.

On his part, senate president Bukola Saraki said the leadership was already looking into the matter, adding that it is important for every part of the country to have standard gauge lines.

The senate adopted the motion after it was put to a voice vote by Saraki.

Amaechi is expected to appear before the senate committee on transport.