By Ogechi Okorie
Ikeja (Precise Post) – Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has stressed the need for the contractors and communities to meet and decide the safety of the people by constructing under and over passes to prevent Nigerians from crossing the rail track.
The minister, while speaking during a routine inspection of Lagos -Ibadan rail project on Saturday, said communities along the rail corridor had complained severally about the inadequate pedestrian crossing and over passes.
“The first thing for us is to complete our over passes and under passes so that when any accident happens, we will say Lagos state government is liable because, we have completed our own. If we don’t complete our own and anything happens, we will also be as liable as the Lagos state government.
“There are communities along these routes especially in the Ogun State area. We have in the course of constructing this rail line elevated the tracks and erosion is happening but it can’t cross over to the next place.
“We are being unfair to them because they gave us all the cooperation we wanted. If these communities have been this good to us, why do we want to visit them with what was not there before we came?
“Is for the engineers to take a village by village study of what impact our rail line must have caused to those communities, viz-a-viz EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment)”, Amaechi said
He said that the contractors had done their best with the project but identified weather conditions as one of the challenges facing the contractors.
“We have cooperation from the various communities along the standard gauge construction; the contractors have done what they could do but the problem is change in weather.
“They couldn’t work beyond that period, besides that, I think the contractors have done well.
“The construction is coming to an end; they are trying to beat the target they gave the Ministry of Transportation, because there is huge improvement.
“Is there any facility in Nigeria that is better than the one in Ebute-Meta,?” he asked.
However, the Chairman, Board of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Alhaji Ibrahim Musa, said in the course of the project, the management of NRC sat with Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) and agreed on areas where overhead crossing and bridges would be constructed.
“We agreed that some bridges and overhead crossing will be constructed by the Federal Government while others will be done by state governments.
“For instance, we constructed new two line bridges at Costain and brought down the old ones to enable us have access.
“As we are coming, you can see that passengers’ movement are under the track, while in some places we could see overhead bridges from Lagos to Ibadan in consideration of human and goods trafficking along the corridors,” he said.
Musa said that the standard gauge between Lagos and Ibadan was the first moving train, compared to the narrow gauge that the country had in the past.
Musa said that although people were still asking for more access to the corridor,their request would, however, would be considered based on merit and the finances available on ground.
The Director of Railway, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Mr Babakobi Muhammed, said the ministry officials held meetings with transportation ministries of Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states to ensure safe corridor for the train.
Muhammed said that the ministry had made provisions for pedestrian crossing to various ministries, while government had approved, while the locations was being worked on.