FG Dumps N16 Trillion Railway Projects For N2.6trn Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road

Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road

Investigations by the Nigerian Tribune have revealed that the N2.6 trillion Lagos-Calabar Coastal road may lead to the abandonment of about N16 trillion railway projects which were incorporated in the 25-year railway roadmap unveiled during the administration of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, and which will expire next year, 2025.

The projects include the Ibadan-Kano Standard Gauge Railway ($5.3 billion); $11.17 billion Lagos-Calabar coastal railway project; the $3.02 billion rehabilitation project for the Eastern Line (Port Harcourt-Maiduguri) and the $1.9 billion Kano-Maradi Railway project.

Checks by the Nigerian Tribune revealed that approval of the N2.6 trillion Lagos-Calabar Coastal road by the Federal Government ought to have come after the completion of the $11.17 billion Lagos-Calabar Coastal railway.

Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, a source close to the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) lamented that the body language of the President Bola Tinubu administration has shown that there is no room for fresh railway project development.

According to the source, Before now, what we keep hearing is that there is no funds, but suddenly there is a whole N2.6 trillion for a road that links Lagos to Calabar. It is shocking.

“If you look at many developed countries, their development is hinged on rail connectivity which comes cheap and very affordable. The Lagos-Calabar coastal railway needed $11.17 billion for its completion, but has been stalled due to paucity of funds. Now, we are expending N2.6 trillion on a road along same axis. Between a road and rail connection, which one is better for economic development? Of course, it’s the rail construction.

“Many of these railway projects will lapse next year because they were incorporated into the railway roadmap development in year 2000 under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. It is only in this country that every government comes and does its own, and dumps a trajectory that ought to be followed.

“The Lagos-Ibadan is just a leg from the Lagos-Kano standard gauge rail line. The Lagos-Ibadan has been completed and works should be ongoing on the Ibadan-Kano axis. Imagine the economic benefits of rail movement of cargoes from the Apapa Port in Lagos straight to Kano?

“As we speak, every cargo that leaves the port in Lagos stops at Ibadan because that’s where the rail ends. From Ibadan up North, the cargoes find their way through the use of trucks which has allowed double handling and security concerns into the freight and logistics system. How long are we going to continue with this pattern?

“If the government can raise N2.6 trillion for a coastal road, what about the various railway projects that are lying abandoned? It seems these projects have been abandoned and we won’t see any fresh railway construction in this country in the next four years.

“The $11.17 billion Lagos-Calabar coastal railway project was in 2021 approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) during the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration. We expected the Federal Government to have continued with this approval, but it has been sidelined.”

Further checks by the Nigerian Tribune revealed that the Ibadan-Kano Standard Gauge Railway, Lagos-Calabar coastal railway project; Eastern Line (Port Harcourt-Maiduguri) rehabilitation have all not yet began and their time frame will expire next year.

Efforts to get the Ministry of Transport’s reaction to the current state of railways development in the country proved abortive as one of the aides of the Minister of Transportation declined comments, stating that the Minister who is in the best position to speak, is not in the country.

“I cannot speak on the issue, and the Minister who can, is not in the country,” the Ministry of Transportation official told Nigerian Tribune.

Meanwhile, affected owners of structures marked for demolition on the right-of- way of the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Road project have been calling for adequate compensation following the commencement of the exercise.

The affected property owners said that the issue of compensation should come first before embarking on demolition of their structures.

While some of them are considering legal action, others said they are not against the construction of the road, but that the Federal Government should pay them adequately and in tandem with current realities.

One of the affected owners, Mr Adewunmi Olusola, a developer, estate surveyor and valuer, called for adequate compensation of his property.

He said he was hurt that his new housing development scheme of over N100 million in Lekki-Epe axis was marked for demolition going by the alignment of the road.

“Government should come down there, take stock of what is there, pay adequate compensation. There are equity holders, those that have brought property from us, what is their fate now and who is going to pay them? Again, is that not double loss, that they are to take me to court to say you have sold us a plot of land and government has taken it? Is it me they are going to take to court or the government? Let’s be seen doing something right,” he said.

Other along Ilasa –Jakande axis also called for adequate compensation.

Flagging-off the demolition of a section of the Landmark Beach at the weekend, the Minister of Works, David Umahi, said the Federal Government will commence payment of compensation for properties that have been confirmed as from Wednesday and Thursday.

He pointed out that the demolition was necessary to clear structures on the Federal Government’s Right-of-way.

He said, “We want to start the demolition from this point. I continue to say that none of the infrastructure is affected, just the shanties, and I have directed that the beach should be shut down from Monday.

“The place is owned by people that are sand filling it, and at the end of the day, there is no more beaches, so what we are doing is to pass our coastal road within the Right-of-Way of the Federal Government. Those who are playing politics with it can go ahead; my job is simple, which is to pass the coastal road.”

“From Wednesday/Thursday, I will pay the compensation, that is why I am still here and I will be here working through the week. For anyone (all that has been confirmed and deserving) being demolished, we would direct the payment to be made.

“I know that you must pay before you demolish, but this is President Bola Tinubu’s government, we have said we would pay compensation, and we are going to pay compensation,” he added.

Umahi said that he inspected kilometres 13, 16, and 20 to ensure the demolition stays along the coastal roads without much damage.

Source: Tribune

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