By Kazeem Akande and Augusta Uchediunor
Sen. Gbenga Ashafa, Chairman Senate Committee on Land Transport has said that the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway line would create additional 7000 jobs for the teeming youths.
Ashafa said on Monday during the oversight visit paid to the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) by the Committee on Land Transport and that of Local and Foreign Debts.
“We are confident that the Lagos to Kano and Calabar to Lagos railway modernisation projects would in no small way reinvigorate Nigeria’s economy through creation of about 7000 jobs.
“On our part as senators holding the mandate of our constituents, we are totally committed to assisting the executive arm in the actualisation of every developmental project within our purview,” Ashafa said.
The senator said that the visit was to assist the committee on Local and Foreign Debt assess the project implementation plan for the recently approved loan request by the Federal Government from the China Exim Bank.
According to him, the loan is to be accessed for the purpose of completing various railway rehabilitation and construction projects across the country.
“The focus of this visit is to immediately set in perspective of our commitment to ensuring a high level of accountability in public expenditure.
“As such, the bulk of this joint committee’s work lies particularly in the areas that concern activities of the Ministry of Transport and all relevant stakeholders in the expenditure of the loan.
“As requested, the sum of 5.851 billion dollars being the total approved loan would be expended on modernisation of Lagos to Kano, Lagos to Ibadan and Calabar to Lagos segments,” he said.
Sen. Shehu Sani, Chairman, Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, in his contribution said that both committees were signals to the seriousness attached to the commencement and successful completion of the rail projects.
Sani said that the project was in the 2016-2018 External Borrowing (Rolling) plan recently approved by the senate.
According to him, the potential of the rail projects was to fast track the nation’s economic growth, provision of gainful employment to teeming youths and overall development of the country.
“The senate while approving the borrowing plan as it concerns the rail, mandated its relevant committees to ensure a thorough oversight of the actual implementation of the projects for which the country was borrowing.
“Obviously, this is to guarantee effective and efficient utilisation of every kobo taken as loan by the federal government on behalf of Nigerian citizens.
“Therefore, this visit is one step in the fulfilment of that mandate and the public trust we owe Nigerian citizens,” he said.
Mr Leo Yin, the Project Coordinator, Chinese Civil Engineer Construction Company (CCECC), said the major challenge facing the project presently was the recent continuous rainfall.
Yin said that plans have been put in place by the company to deliver and hand over the project at the appointed time.
He however, appealed to communities in the affected areas to cooperate with the workers for speedy execution of the project.
NAN reports that the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Ameachi, had said that Federal Government would ensure the completion of the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail services by Dec. 2018.
Ameachi gave the assurance on Monday July 10, in Lagos while inspecting the ongoing rail projects at Ijoko community area of Ogun State.
The minister said that the Federal Government was making efforts to ensure that the project was completed as scheduled.