- COVID-19 stalls Lagos-Ibadan rail commissioning
- Amaechi: 60 workers contracted virus
The Federal Government has signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU Kazawith Mota-Engil Group on the construction of $1.959 billion Kano-Maradi Standard Gauge Railway lines.
Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi, yesterday in Abuja, signed on behalf of the Federal Government, while the Managing Director, Mota- Engil, Antonio Gvoea, signed on behalf of the contracting firm.
The new railway corridor, which is to be located in the North, will run through three states: Kano, Jigawa and Katsina and through Niger territory as far as Maradi. Other cities that will be affected by the rail line in Nigeria are Danbatta, Kaza ure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina and Jibiya.
According to Amaechi, the 283.750-kilometre rail line, in addition to developing freight and passenger transport, will make a great contribution to the local economy, as well as an important development in the social sector.
The project duration is 36 months and the contract type is engineering, procurement and construction.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani and the Director, Legal Services, Pius Oteh; the Managing Director, Mota-Engil Group, Antonio Gvoea; Head of Legal, Mota-Engil Group, Cameron Beverley; Magajin Garin Kano, Muhammad Wada; Director, Mota-Engil Group, Kola Abdulkarim; Vice President, Mota-Engil Group, Mohammed Abdul-Razaq; Nigerian Ambassador to Germany, Yusfu Tuggar and Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala-Usman, among other dignitaries.
Meanwhile, Amaechi has said that the commissioning of the Lagos- Ibadan rail line would no longer take place as earlier scheduled due to the upsurge of COVID-19 pandemic.
Amaechi, who disclosed this during a television interview in Abuja, said that over 60 staff on project site had been infected by the disease while trying to complete the project.
“First let us admit that over 60 of our staff, not ministry of transport staff, but the staff working on the rail project have been infected by COVID-19. Luckily nobody has died and I pray nobody will die, but you see the kind of sacrifice everybody is making to get the rail to function.
“We were to inaugurate first week in January. We had to stop those doing minor completion because of the rise in COVID-19 transmission.
“The timeline for inauguration will depend on COVID, if COVID stop today or reduces we will commission the project.” He further stated that the train services on all routes might stop if passengers do not adhere to COVID-19 protocol.
“We will allow the train to run, but if we see that we are conveying passengers who have COVID-19 from Lagos to Ibadan, we will stop it, just like we are threatening to stop Kaduna- Abuja if people don’t comply with the COVID-19 protocol.”
The minister also noted that the Abuja-Kaduna route conveyed about 4,000 passengers daily, stating that if anyone transmitted COVID-19 on-board it would be a serious challenge to manage