The contractor handling the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project, the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), has disclosed that the December 2018 deadline given by the federal government for the completion of the project might not be feasible if it fails to address the identified challenges.
A senior official of CCECC, who did not want to be named, disclosed that the project has been bedeviled with some huge challenges that are threatening the revised completion deadline for the project.
He said that beyond the two bridges that would be demolished in Lagos and rebuilt, several kilometers of gas, water pipes and telecoms cables would have to be relocated.
According to him, “The track passes through the army barracks at Ebute Metta, Lagos, which means we will have to relocate the barracks but to where?”
“The government is still discussing with the military on how to relocate the barracks. Until that is done, there is little we can do. There are several water and gas pipes that have to be relocated.
“That’s a huge challenge because it’s complicated relocating those pipes. Also, the existing narrow gauge track will be removed and relocated at some places” the official added.
He explained further that in some locations, the height of the high-tension electricity wires would need to be elevated at least 9.5 metres also.
“As we speak, we still have three kilometers of right of way not yet acquired.
“We still have thousands of tonnes of steel at the Apapa port we haven’t cleared because of the gridlock. But if the federal government can fix all these challenges, we can complete the project this year. If not, there is nothing we can do,” he said.
The CCECC official further revealed that the challenges were not lost on the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, who has also confirmed recently that he was aware of the challenges but the completion dateline will be met.
“The good news is that by December 2018 we should complete Lagos-Ibadan rail project. But we have about 43km of water pipes to be replaced.
“We have the sewage to deal with, we have bridges to demolish and rebuild, we have an army barracks to relocate, we have gas pipelines to relocate and other challenges. However, we are discussing with the Lagos State Government on how to deal with these challenges,” he assured.
The minister had recalled when media houses were taken to visit the project site, about 111km of right of way had been established along the corridor and over N10 billion had already been paid in compensation for farmlands, property and economic trees.
“Excavation around the rail track path and subgrade fill/cutting has reached significant levels. Several culverts and bridges are being done simultaneously.
“CCECC has also commenced the new Type II of concrete sleeper production, with the laying of temporary tracks at advanced stages.
“However, the final laying of the tracks has not yet commenced. The laying of tracks should commence by March, all things being equal,” the minister said at the time.
The contractor had also complained that some host communities around the rail corridor were insensitive and had resorted to extortion.
The CCECC also accused the Ogun State Government of not providing enough support, even though they are huge beneficiaries of the rail project.
“The Ogun State Government and its communities are not as cooperative on the project. The state government demolished our site yard at Abeokuta without notice.
“I don’t think they appreciate this project. Oyo and Lagos have been cooperative,” said CCECC’s management.
The contractor further revealed that it has told the federal government in no uncertain terms that unless the challenges listed above were holistically addressed and on time, they would not be able to deliver on the project by December 2018.
“The December 2018 deadline will be difficult but we will do our best. However, we can only achieve this if all the challenges we are facing are cleared by the government,” the company said.