At least 1,400 buildings marked for demolition in Abeokua, Ogun State, to pave the way for the construction of the $1.5bn standard gauge Lagos-Ibadan rail line may no longer be pulled down, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said.
The minister, who 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 required to compensate owners of the affected buildings.
He stated that the contractor had been advised to see the possibility of avoiding the 1,400 structures marked for demolition 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.