Investigations have revealed that the N382.5billion ($1.53billion) Lagos-Ibadan double track railway line modernisation project has suffered a setback three years after its flag off.
Findings revealed that the actualisation of the project may not see the light of the day till 2020.
The 180 kilometres project, which was scheduled for completion in 2016, is still far from the finishing point since, despite the amount released for the project.
The contract, which was awarded to Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company Nigeria Limited, is expected to be funded with $1billion of the China Export and Import Bank loan with the Federal Government footing the balance of $500 million.
Investigation revealed that no serious job has been done ever since the Federal Government approved money for the project as the existing rail lines are not viable to accommodate the new locomotive engines with the capacity of 150 kilometres per hour speed to use the tracks.
A source at the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) noted that the trains could hardly make 70 kilometres per hour on the existing tracks.
The source noted: “Assuming the project has been completed, the locomotive engine on ground has the capacity to pull 40 feet container goods at once if the tracks are good. The existing one could only pull 12 40 feet containers at once.
“No good communication network, train which derailed stayed for weeks in the bush before being rescued.”
The source noted that the contract was awarded to the company in August 2012 to deliver the project within four years.
The source added: “There were appropriations of N13 billion for Lagos-Ibadan railway standard guage projects in the budgets of 2012, 2013 and 2014 but only the railway management can tell us why the project has not started. But where is the money.”
The railway modernisation is aimed at replacing the existing narrow gauge system with wider standard gauge system, while allowing high-speed train operations on the railway network.
NRC maintains poor rail system with about 3,557 kilometers of three feet six inches in (1,067 mm) gauge tracks and has suffered abandonment in the hands of successive governments.
The other constructions in the pipeline include the Lagos-Benin City (300kilometrs), Benin-Abakiliki (500kilometres), Benin Obudu Cattle Ranch (673kilometres), Lagos-Abuja high-speed (615kilometres), Zaria-Birnin Koni (520kilometres), Ega nyi-Otukpo (533kilometres) and Ega nyi-Abuja, Port Harcourt-Maiduguri line (1,657kilometres), Ogoja-Maiduguri, Kano-Gamboru Ngala, Kano-Jibia, and Ilela-Minna rail lines.
Meanwhile, a former chairman of the corporation, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, and three other successive chairmen have been summoned by the House of Representatives over alleged N1trillion rail contracts.
Tukur, Abubakar Kawu Baraje, Ambassador Ladan Shuni and Halliru Bello are scheduled to appear before the lawmakers’ investigative committee on trail transport.
Tukur had served as the chairman of the NRC following his resignation as the PDP national chairman.
The Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, was also invited by the panel to give account on the rehabilitation of rail tracks, standard gauge, bridges, coaches, wagons and locomotives between 2010 and 2014.
The Chairman of the ad hoc committee, Hon. Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma, noted that the essence of the probe was not to witchhunt anybody but to let Nigerians know how their tax money was being spent.
Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari, pledged that his administration would take necessary action to correct lapses which had hindered the implementation of agreements signed between Nigeria and China under past administrations for the development of rail transportation in Nigeria.
He made the pledged in Johannesburg during the bilateral talks with President Xi Jinping at the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation.
Buhari noted that government would fulfil Nigeria’s obligations under the agreements.
He explained that the implementation would help to boost the country’s economy and provide thousands of new jobs.