•His Score Card Reveals
When Hon. Rotimi Amaechi was made Transport Minister 3 years ago, many didn’t think he would succeed in his assignment. They didn’t think he would quickly grasp the dynamics of what that sector needed at that time, and what needed be done to fast track developments in the sector.
But surprisingly, Amaechi has dazzled everyone with all he has done in that sector so far, despite the delay in the passing of the federal government budget and the lean purse of the Buhari government.
What has he been able to do?
City People dug into his activities and found out that the Minister has done quite much.
•This includes the Lagos-Kano rail line as well as the Lagos-Port Harcourt standard gauge line which started running last year.
•Central rail project from Itakpe to Warri is in progress.
•Narrow gauge line from Ilorin–Minna that will connect Abuja to other parts of the country, through the Central line at Warri are under work, while the Jos Inland Port would be completed in June.
•On going Construction of Lagos-Ijebu-Ode-Ore-Benin-Asaba-Agbor-Onisha-Sapele-Yenagoa-Port Harcourt-Uyo and Calabar coastal rail line is on.
•The ministry has commenced work on Eastern rail flank linking Aba to Port Harcourt, Makurdi, Enugu and Jos.
• There is another one linking Ekiti rail through Osogbo to Ilorin, Minna and Kano.
•Dredging and construction of the Calabar Port as well as River Benue water ways.
•Projects at the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology and the Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority are receiving attention.
•Establishment of Aviation University too.
•Ongoing reforms in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
•Commencement of construction work on the Lagos-Ibadan Rail line.
•Construction of a second runway at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja
•Near completion of the Lagos, Port Harcourt and Enugu airport terminals’ facelift.
•Flag-off of Transport short code *735# and Transport Social Media (TSM) mobile Application as a policy tool for the enhancement of passengers and motor parks safety.
•Contracting the security of the nation’s waterways to an Israeli security firm at $186 million.
Months back, the Federal Executive Council, FEC, approved a memo presented by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, for the construction of a rail line from Ibadan, Oyo State, to Kaduna.
The rail project will cost $6.7 billion, with a completion period of 3 years.
The Federal Government has paid compensation to all residents affected by the ongoing new Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge lines.
“There is a place after Ijoko where we have issue with the right of way” he explained last year.
“We have finished negotiations with them and they have paid compensations to the affected residents.
“The contractors will start work from the axis and the construction continues,” he said.
He said the only challenge confronting the contractor, the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), then was the Ogun River. The minister said that pipelines and cables laid along the lines also posed a great challenge to the project. “We still have problems with gas and cables. As for the barracks, the Army has given us the green light and work will start at Ebute Metta very soon as a result of the development. “As for the Ogun River, we are consulting the state government to assist us in the course, so as to fast track the project in that axis. “We have started battling with time schedule, owing to these utilities, but l’m sure the projects would be delivered in due time,” he added.
The Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri standard gauge rail lines is set to commence commercial activities. He said the ministry was putting in place all the necessary facilities to ensure that the rail lines start operation. He said that seven coaches were expected to arrive the country soon for rail transportation. He revealed that, the Federal Government had almost completed the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri, Lagos-Ibadan, Lagos-Kano, as well as the Lagos-Port Harcourt standard gauge lines.
President Muhammadu Buhari last year commissioned new rail vehicles for the Kaduna –Abuja train service at Rigasa train station in Kaduna.
The vehicles consisted of 10 new coaches and 2 new locomotives. Government procured the vehicles to reduce the stress of passengers whose large volume currently overwhelms facilities available and had encouraged ticket racketeering and other sharp practices on the train route. In his address at the ceremony, Buhari reiterated the resolve of his administration to vigorously implement the federal government’s 25-year railway master plan with a view to transforming rail transportation in Nigeria. In his welcome address on the occasion, the Minister said railway transport had nearly become a new phenomenon in Nigeria through the current efforts of the government to expand its facilities.
“The indication is that we will no longer see ticket racketeering.
Nobody will be sending us text messages and video clips of passengers protesting at the train stations because of inadequate services,” Mr. Amaechi explained recently. The minister recalled that the standard gauge rail line from Idu in Abuja to Rigasa in Kaduna was commissioned in July, 2016 by the President. The project was launched several years ago by the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo and sustained under former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The President left the commissioning when he took a train ride from Rigasa to Kakuri on the outskirts of Kaduna to commission the Inland Dry Port. While commissioning the facility, Buhari called on stakeholders to make optimal use of it and avoid inflicting unnecessary hardship on Nigerians. He said the port would boost the nation’s economy, create more job opportunities and provide shipping services, eve without a sea port. Buhari commended the Nigerian Shipping Council for successfully establishing the first inland dry port in the country.
Since Amaechi came on board, he has achieved some policy milestones like the National Road Transport Operators’ Manual, which is a guide to the safety, security, and regulation of commercial motor vehicle operations in the country.
It also include the creation of a platform for the private sector to showcase their innovations in transportation; the encouragement of effort towards the Inter-State-Road Transit Scheme approved by the ECOWAS; and the partnership with World Bank on the latter’s Rural Access Mobility Project.
In the 2018 budget proposal, a total of N162.28 billion is proposed as counterpart funding for railway projects, including Lagos-Kano, Calabar-Lagos, Ajeokuta-Itakpe-Aladja (Warri), Port Harcourt-Maiduguri, and Kano-Katsina-Jibiya-Maradi in Niger Republic, among others, The government is planning to dredge 1,000 kilometres of inland waterways and reinforce riverbanks to increase the capacity of inland waterways.
Last Christmas, the Federal Government commissioned 2 rail locomotives and 10 coaches to ease transport of people ahead of the Yuletide celebration.
“We want to make sure that those travelling from Abuja to Kaduna are able to use the new coaches and locomotives,” he said. The minister, who examined the level of work done by the contractors, expressed worry over the rate at which the project was being executed. He, however, assured Nigerians that the December 2018 deadline set for the completion of the project still holds, saying the contractors would need to intensify their efforts. The minister also assured that none of the contractors is being owed by the government.
It was learnt that Federal Government will inaugurated 10 new coaches and two locomotives for the Abuja-Kaduna rail service on December 10.
Amaechi recently said in a space of 2 years, the ministry had so many projects running with some remarkable achievements in the Maritime and rail sub-sector.
He said within the period, Abuja-Kaduna rail line was completed, adding that work was ongoing at the Lagos-Ibadan rail alongside construction and rehabilitation of the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri standard gauge.
By 2018, most of the ongoing rail projects would be completed. The president has also approved the Lagos-Calabar rail line. So all the states would be connected by rail, as the vision for Nigeria was to continue to construct railway in the next 10 to 15 years.
The train service was inaugurated by President Buhari on July 26, 2016, in Abuja with 4 coaches.
The Abuja to Kaduna rail line now generates N1 million daily. The feat was because of the increase in passengers who patronise the rail. Amaechi attributed the passenger surge to the security challenges faced by commuters along the route. ‘’We are spending N56 million per month, we are getting back only N16 million. Now, there is an improvement; we now make N30 million, (that is) one million Naira per day. ‘’The improvement started last month because of increase in passengers because of the kidnapping on the road,’’ he said.
The minister said the government was using the previous generated revenues on the maintenance of the coaches and other logistics. Mr. Amaechi said that government would address the issue of touting at the Idu rail station with the expected arrival of 10 more coaches by October. He, however, said that the arrival of the new coaches would require more resources for maintenance to meet customers’ expectations. It would be recalled that the Abuja-Kaduna rail line commenced commercial operation in July 2016.