by Isi Esene
For those who have always dreamed of a train ride through the country, your dream is closer to reality than you think because the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has yesterday approved $1.488bn for the execution of the Lagos-Ibadan double track railway line modernisation project.
This was announced by the minister of Information, Labaran Maku, while briefing State House correspondents on the outcome of the weekly meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa.
The minister noted that the rail project had previously been awarded to a Chinese company, CCECC Ltd., but could not be completed due to problems of project funding.
The minister who praised the president’s commitment to the rapid development of the transportation sector, and the railways in particular, disclosed that the 2,733km rail project will be completed in six phases.
“The projects in the railways took off with the rehabilitation of the existent old rail line system. Today, we took a major step to build a modern rail line between Lagos and Ibadan.
“The standard gauge line which we approved today in the council is going to run between Lagos, Ibadan, Ilorin, Minna, Kano and also there would be a phase that will take off from Minna to Abuja. The one from Abuja to Kaduna is already under construction.
“So, today the Council approved the project and this is a major step by Mr. President to modernise the railway system.”
In his contribution, the Minister of Transport, Idris Umar, said the project was part of the second segment of the Lagos-Ibadan railway modernisation project with a distance of 156.65 km.
According to the Nation Newspapers, the minister said project is expected to generate over 5,000 jobs and will last three years.