The Federal Government has disclosed plans to begin free train ride from Iju in Lagos State to Abeokuta in Ogun State as soon as the laying of tracks is completed by next month.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, during an inspection tour of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project, said that 38 kilometres had been completed on the 73km track from Lagos to Abeokuta, adding that the contractor assured him that the axis would be completed by February.
The minister also disclosed plans to deploy about eight new wagons on the Ajaokuta and Itakpe axis of the rail track. According to him, by the first week of January, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and some ministers would be brought to inspect the project, after which passengers would enjoy free train ride from Iju to Abeokuta.
Government’s target, Amaechi said, was to get to Ibadan by end of January, after which pressure would be put on the construction company to complete the station buildings, and to focus on completing one track rather than constructing the two tracks simultaneously.
He disclosed that government had been able to sort out the challenges at the Lagos axis. Amaechi said the initial budget for the project was $1.6 billion.
He, however, hinted that the cost might increase due to some unforeseen challenges encountered during the execution, such as payment of compensation for the demolition of some structures.
If the $2 billion used by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for campaign during the 2015 general election was deployed in the rail project, they would have completed it from Ibadan to Minna, he argued.
The House Committee Chairman, Land Transport, Abdulmumini Jibril, commended the pace of work on the project. He reiterated commitment of the committee to support the ministry in the best possible way to ensure that the work is completed.