Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, Tuesday, said the Federal Government was committed to delivering fast and efficient rail system in the country.
As part of measures to attain that goal, Mr. Osinbajo said the administration will complete the Lagos-Ibadan Rail project by December 2018, as specified in the contract.
The acting president said these at the Nigerian Railway Corporation’s compound, Ebute-Metta, Lagos, during the ground-breaking ceremony of the Segment II Lagos-Ibadan Rail Project with Extension to Lagos Port Complex, Apapa.
He recalled how President Muhammadu Buhari, had during his visit to China in January 2016, reopened negotiation to enlist Chinese Government’s support for the project under the Lagos-Kano Modernization Project.
He said the ground-breaking ceremony marked the commencement of the plan to speedily improve transport links with Lagos – the national economic nerve centre – to other state capitals across the country.
“An active and vibrant railway system confers many benefits on the society. Our ultimate goal is to restore a railway using culture for both commercial and personal transportation,” said Mr. Osinbajo.
“We are confident that the national rail project will create up to half a million jobs and facilitate the movement of up to 3.2 million tonnes of cargo per annum.
“It will also reduce the burden on national highways, thus reducing deterioration of the road networks and increasing the lifespan of our roads.
“Railway network will support efforts to diversify the economy and enhance our export potentials. Just as several of our cities became known as railway towns in the past, we expect to boost economic activities within the railway lines that will eventually cut across the entire country,” the acting president said.
In a goodwill message, the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said the proposed extension of the Lagos-Ibadan Rail Project would go a long way to open up the economy of the South West region as well as facilitate regional integration and growth.
He said the project also marked a new dawn in the transformation of the nation’s transport infrastructure, especially for the South West region.
While expressing delight at the project, Mr. Ambode said apart from enhancing regional integration, the agricultural sector would receive the long-awaited boost as the rail line will be a fast and convenient means of transporting farm produce from the hinterland to the city, thereby growing the economies of the states.
“The direct benefit of this project is that containers and goods from the Apapa Port will now be transported by rail, thereby reducing the number of trailers and other heavy duty vehicles on our roads,” Mr. Ambode said.
“A direct consequence of this project would reduce the man-hour wasted due to traffic gridlock and bad roads caused by heavy duty vehicles.
“In addition, we expect the government to expend fewer resources on road repairs and maintenance, once the rail takes off and reduces the pressure of articulated vehicles on our roads.”
While thanking Mr. Buhari for approving the right of way for the proposed Red Line Light Rail Project, Mr. Ambode implored the Nigeria Railway Cooperation, to cooperate with the state government during the construction of the red line.
Earlier, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said on assumption of office, President Buhari prioritised the completion of rail projects across the country and challenged the ministry to hit the ground running to ensure the project was delivered in record time.