The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, has disclosed plans by the Federal Government to protect communities along the Lagos-Ibadan rail line from harmful effects of the project.
Consequently, Amaechi called for a systemic examination of unintended consequences of the standard gauge railway project on host communities along the rail corridor.
Making the statement at the monthly inspection tour of the Lagos-Ibadan rail to examine the level of work on the corridor, he directed the engineers to do a study village by village of what impact the rail line must have caused the communities vis-a vis the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) already done by the ministry.
The minister was reacting to letters of complaints from the host communities, pointing inherent challenges the project posed to their continued existence.
Amaechi said: “We are being unfair to them because they gave us all the cooperation we wanted, even chieftaincy titles.
These communities have been nice to us, why do we want to visit them with what was not there before we came.” He further noted that the next project after completion of Lagos-Ibadan would be Kano-Ibadan, Port Harcourt- Benin and Kano- Maradi in Niger Republic.
He stated that the latter was likely going to be the fastest as loans for it was coming from European banks as opposed to that of the Chinese whose terms though better but very tedious to procure. Commenting on fencing, to protect railway infrastructure and commuter traffic, the minister said: “It is very expensive to fence.
If you look at Itapke-Warri, you will see that we are fencing but the community is knocking them down. What do we do?” We will fence where we suspect more human interference like Lagos.”
Also, speaking, the Board Chairman, Nigerian Railway Corporate (NRC) Engr. Ibrahim Alhassan, disclosed that there are over 55 overhead bridges, six underpasses and over 100 culvets from Lagos to Ibadan. He, however, stated that, bearing in mind the need for more, the Corporation was interfacing with Lagos, Ogun and Oyo state governments to provide more.