The Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Mr. Fidet Okhria, who disclosed this on Tuesday in a telephone interview with our correspondent, also said the construction work had commenced on the standard gauge rail line with the demolition of all structures on the NRC’s right of way from Apapa, Lagos to Ijoko, Ogun State.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had performed the ground-breaking of the N485bn rail project in Lagos and announced that it would be handled by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation and be ready in December 2018.
Okheria named the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, as the chairman of the committee, with members comprising the permanent secretary in the ministry, director of rail services, the managing director of the NRC, managing director of the construction company and the project manager.
According to him, the project is the segment two of the new Lagos-Kano rail line, with extension to the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa.
He also said that about 80 per cent of the workers handling the construction work would be Nigerians.
Okheria stated that the NRC had envisaged that its right of way would be required in the future and was therefore careful in granting approval to people for erection of buildings.
He said, “We intentionally did not give approval to many people, because we know that one day, the land will be required. So, we have already mapped out those places we need to remove and the squatters are aware.
“We have told them to remove their valuables before the bulldozers start work. The clearance is going to be total.”
Okheria, however, said the affected occupants/owners of any demolished building with valid documents would be duly compensated.
According to him, the new Lagos-Ibadan rail line will commence operations in January 2019, adding that the project will not affect the running of the narrow gauge line.
“The standard gauge will not affect the narrow gauge. We will continue to run that and improve on it. The normal schedule of train service will not stop because of the new project. The funds are available; it is just for the work to commence,” he said.
Over 2,000 shanties were reportedly demolished along the NRC’s right of way, including five churches, three mosques and two preparatory schools, to clear the area for the project.
The demolition, led by the Chairman of the NRC Committee for the Removal of Illegal Structures, Mr. Anthony Onyokoko, was said to have started at 8am on Friday.