The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, says that Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail project is about 80 per cent completed and will be ready soon.
Amaechi, disclosed this during the inspection tour of the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line in Agbor.
He also stated that the rail line would be completed before the scheduled date, adding that the tracks were ready, only the stations were left to be completed.
“It is between 70 to 80 per cent completed, but you must know that this job is meant to be completed in 2019.
“However, we are compelling them (the contractors) and because we are pushing them, they are working day and night to have it done.
“If it is time frame, they are well ahead of schedule. It is meant to be completed in 2019 and what we are doing here is what we are doing in Lagos-Ibadan and that project is actually a three-year contract. But we are forcing them to complete it in one-year period.
“Just like this is supposed to end by 2019 but we are saying no, you must leave site before October.
“However, we had a verbal agreement with them to quit site by June 2018,” the minister said.
Amaechi stated that the government had no apology when it comes to borrowing to fund infrastructure in Nigeria.
Speaking, Mr Fidet Okhiria, the Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), said that by September the train operation would commence to maintain the tracks.
According to him, if the government waits for all the 12 train stations to be completed, the tracks will go bad.
“Technically, with the level of work now, we can run the train from Itakpe-Warri safely, the next stage is to make the convenience for passengers available which is the stations building.
“It is possible to operate now with one train, as far as we have communication signals and for the stations, some will be completed in August, some September, but we are not going to wait for that or else the tracks will go bad, so as a train operator, we will not wait,” Okhiria said.
Mr Chiedu Nwazojie, the Project Manager of Itakpe-Warri Railway Project, said that the project has a total of 12 stations but they are presently working on eight stations.
He said that the whole project was 302 kilometres (km), with rehabilitation ongoing 52km, which was from Itakpe to Ajaokuta, changing the wooden sleepers to concrete sleepers ones.
He said that they are working on Agenebode station, Itakpe, Eganyi, Ajaokuta, Itogbo, Uromi, Igueben-Ekhen, Igbanke and Agbor, which is the central station at the moment.
He, however, complained that the progress of work is being affected by the rainy season, stating that the initial August dateline might not be feasible.