The Federal Government has said that it will commence full commercial operations on the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Railway after three months of free train test ride even as Stations are nearing completion.
The Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi disclosed this to newsmen on Thursday 11th April, 2019 at Agbor Railway Station in Delta State shortly after the inspection tour of the project.
Amaechi directed the Nigerian Railway Cooperation (NRC) to fix commensurate price for the Itakpe-Warri Railway and stop the free train rides forthwith.
He said “The commercial activities should resume fully today, I have already directed the MD to start collecting money”.
The Minister further informed that the construction of Stations at Agbor is nearing completion and will be fully completed by September or October this year.
Hear him: “The Station buildings are nearing completion at Agbor and Julius Berger have assured that they will be out of site by June, then, CCECC would be left to do the track work and when they finish the track work, this place will be up for use”
The Minister continued:”We have completed the track work, what would be outstanding are the stations and by September or October they would have completed the stations if they continue with the same pace of work they are currently doing”.
Amaechi added that by the time they finished building the Stations, the track, as well as offices would have been completed and it will pave the way for the companies that are mining Iron Ore to move their products and passengers freely by using the track unhindered.
“By the time they finish, there would be track, offices and the companies mining iron ore would be able to move their goods and passengers would be able to use the train when completed”
According to him, “none of the station buildings have been completed although; they are at different levels of completion and some have finished the structural work, just the finishing work is remaining”.
Furthermore, the Minister affirmed that he was impressed by the progress of work despite the fact that Government is yet to pay the contractors for some already completed jobs.
“Beyond the fact that we are owing them, am impressed at the level of work. If you recall, the first time we came, this place used to be bushy, no business activities and by this second visit, the offices are almost completed”, he stated.
Amaechi further added that the linking of Railway line from Itakpe to the nation’s capital, Abuja, would cost the Federal Government $3 Billion Dollars. He noted that this plan had to be taking to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval because it is a different contract.
“The plan to link Itakpe to Lokoja has to go to the cabinet, ones it is approved, it is a different contract all together but before then, the Itakppe-Warri will continue to function”.
“What we are doing now is to take people from the South-South to the North but unfortunately Itakpe is in the middle of nowhere and there is need to get them to Lokoja so that people can pick train from Lokoja to Warri”, he explained.