by Lekan Olanrewaju
Good news everyone; or at least everyone who ever wanted to travel across the nation by train; construction of the Western rail line will be completed by the end of the year.
The rail line is expected to connect Lagos, Ibadan, Jebba, and Kaduna to Kano and is a double lane standard gauge line that will run parallel to the existing single lane which was constructed about 113 years ago.
The project had already been approved by President Obasanjo, who in 2007 approved $8.3bn for the undertaking. It was, however, suspended in 2008 by President Yar ‘Adua following allegations that the amount was inflated and that the Chinese contractor was not duly registered to do business in Nigeria. All that, however did not put a stop to the plans as, according to the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transport, Alhaji Sahabi Ya’u, the line will be up and running before the year runs out.
“I assure Nigerians that the line would be in use before the end of this year,” he said on Sunday in Abuja while speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria. “It’s just remaining some little finishing touches.’’
He also spoke about the Eastern Rail Line which is in construction as well, and is expected to connect Port Harcourt and Makurdi to Maiduguri.
“In the next one or two weeks, we will be out on oversight duty and we will make sure that every kobo that is put into the railway project is spent wisely.’’
He also mentioned another project in the works; the Itakpe-Ajaokuta standard gauge line, which is meant to transport steel products to the ports, saying the construction was going to be done in part due to the huge costs, which the country cannot afford at once.
“We want to start the standard gauge in segmentation,” he said. “It is being segmented instead of being awarded in whole because it is a very huge amount of money, which the country cannot afford at once.”
“In the next few years, we will be having standard gauge rail lines running from Lagos to Kano and from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.’’