By Adeyinka Aderibigbe

The Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi on Monday declared that Lagos State remains his greatest headache in his task of delivering the speed train by December.

Amaechi who reiterated his commitment to the deadline however said the Federal Government is determined to go ahead and do all it takes to complete the project with or without Lagos State.

He said despite repeated meetings with the State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode his response to the removal of all encumbrances impedimg the pace of work along the Lagos corridor been slow.

Among others, the relocation of the state’s water supply mains, the demolition of two bridges, relocation of an Army formation, acquisition of more lands, relocation of gas pipeline are some of the challenges impeding the progress of work around Lagos.

Amaechi who spoke to journalists at the site headquarters at Adunbu Village, via Itori, in Ogun State however said a Committee has been set up headed by the Chairman of the Nigerian Railway Corporation Engr Usman Abubakar, to resolve all issues relating to securing the project’s right of way.

One of the areas he said the federal government may not delay is in the relocation of the water mains, which he said government may acquire new pipes, and lay for the state government to connect to their water source.

Speaking on his assessment of the level of work on the $1.5 billion project, the Minister said his earlier doubts about delivery has been substantially reduced.

He said: “If I earlier had any doubt about the delivery of this project, I must say they have been substantially addressed because appreciable work has gone between the last time I came and now. Note that this project was originally scheduled for three years and we are forcing them to deliver within a year. It is obvious that the contractor is under intense pressure but that is good for us because they are trying to measure up to our demands.”

He said with the current speed on civil work, it is possible that track laying would begin across the entire corridor between Lagos to Ibadan by April.

“I have conceded to the contractor’s demand that we shift next month’s inspection to end of April and I have been assured that they would have completed the track laying even up to Papalanto, in Ogun State.”

He also disclosed that because of the new alignment that would be taken at Abeokuta, the site for the Abeokuta train station would now shift eastwards.

Recall that last month Amaechi had disclosed that the committee had advised the contractor to take another alignment to avoid the built up environment around MKO Abiola Trade Fair Centre which would have affected 1,004 structures that would have cost the federal government another N2.8 billion in compensation.

He however directed the contractor to double up and work round the clock to complete all earthworks before April ending to ensure that the project does not suffer any delay as a result of the elements, (rain).

“It won’t be out of place to suggest to yhr contractor to increase their presence in all sections of the project and ensure they work round the clock to make site that much if the earthwork is completed before heavy rain starts by next month,” Amaechi said.

Present on the tour are the NRC Chairman, Abubakar, the Managing Director Mr Fidet Okhiria, top management staff of the Ministry and the NRC, officials of the contractor as well consultants to the project.