Thursday, 13 September 2012

Rail Operations to resume on Lagos-Kano line in Six Weeks-SURE-P


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The Lagos-Kano railway line would in six weeks resume full operations after two years of suspended rail transport activities by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).
The NRC was forced to suspend rail operations on the busy commercial route when the crucial Akerri bridge linking the North and Southern Nigeria was washed away by flash floods. But following the recent financing intervention of its rehabilitation by the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment programme (SURE-P) Committee, the NRC has announced that rail operations would commence in six weeks when the Akerri bridge would be completed.
In a press release signed by the Head ,Corporate Communications of SURE P,Mary Ikoku,top officials of Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P), Nigeria Railway Corporation and Project Implementation Unit of the Federal Ministry of Transport disclosed this to journalists after a week-long inspection tour of on-going projects in train stations across the country.
SURE-P Committee member and Sub-committee convener on Railways, Mr. Chike Okogwu, who led a team of inspectors drawn from a pool of professional engineers of PIU and NRC, after a week-long inspection tour of ongoing projects in train stations across the country explained that there was urgency to get the railways back on track in line with President Jonathan’s transformation agenda.
He said “This trip is to ascertain the first phase of work that has been done, following SURE-P’s early release of funds to get railway back on track”.
Okogwu further stated that having been mandated by the presidency to get railway back on track, SURE-P injected massive funds into the otherwise crumbling transport sector and ensured that work commenced almost immediately in a dozen sites across the country even as he added that the work done so far, particularly on Akerri Bridge that has been the major challenge in rail transport between the commercial cities of Lagos and Kano was a satisfactory development.
“Today, I am glad to announce to Nigerians that the Akerri Bridge end has been tackled.
 “We want to thank the Federal Government for intervening in the Akerri Bridge. Work has been going on and the contractors needed to be paid to energize work there. About four weeks ago, there was a minor challenge at Bridge 73. We are assuring Nigerians that in the next six weeks, the bridge would’ve been done and then the lines will open up and goods and passengers will move freely.” Okogwu assured
In another expression of satisfaction with accomplished work level, Chairman of the PIU, Engr Eric Onyeiwu, said the week-long verification exercise has not just enabled the team to evaluate work-in-progress at the various sites, but useful for proper decision taking.
Although members of the PIU griped about the slow pace of work by some of the contractors on site particularly work on Asa community in Aba, contracted to Esser Nigeria Ltd, they unanimously were delighted by the overall performance of the contractors.
Oyeiwu contended “Many of the contractors are performing well. But we also have issues to sort out with a few of them. We are expecting NRC to give us more detailed information about those areas we are not contented with.
“There is a noticeable improvement in the quality of work done, improvement by the commitment of NRC, improvement by the contractors and others involved in the projects.”
He informed that some IPCs submitted by contractors do not tally with some IPCs with the PIU adding “We don’t think we will give approval without details of the valuation.”
On his part, Engineer Ahmadu, director of Civil Engineering Department of NRC, thanked SURE-P for their prompt intervention. “SURE-P’s intervention is excellent and timely because all the projects were doomed for disaster because of inadequate funding. But with SURE-P’s intervention we are certain that all these contracts will be executed.”
The delegation started off their visit from Lagos and went through Port Harcourt, Aba, Makurdi, Lafia, Kafanchan and Gombe and ended on inspections at Akerri Bridge and Brigde 73 near Minna in Niger state.   
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