The Federal Government on Friday flagged-off the Lagos-Abeokuta standard gauge rail. This is even as the much-anticipated arrival of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Oshinbajo failed to materialise.
Delivering his keynote address after the train arrived Abeokuta from Iju in Lagos, the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi urged the mammoth crowd to vote in President Mohammadu Buhari for a second term if they want the project to get to completion.
According to Rotimi Amaechi, “This is not s commissioning ceremony. We have just decided to flag-off the Iju to Abeokuta train ride, which will run for free for the next three months.
“We are grateful for the Ogun State government for this deserving reception. This is the third standard gauge in Nigeria. The first standard gauge is Itakpe-Warri rail. The second is the Kaduna-Abuja rail.
” For the tunnel, the one here is the second. The first is at where the standard gauge crosses the narrow gauge. The third tunnel will be in Ibadan
“If you people want us to take the train from here to Ibadan, then vote for the All Progressive Congress (APC).
“From tomorrow, this train will be running free of charge from Iju to Abeokuta. There will be three trips every day. We are also trying to build the stations, and that should be completed before the end of the year.”
Also speaking in Abeokuta, the Ogun State Governor, Sen. Inikunle Amosun who also took the train ride from Iju to Abeokuta lauded the project, and thanked the President Mohammadu Buhari and the President of China for making the project a reality.
“This is what I call life changing experience, which is about to happen to us here in Nigeria. Congratulations to all of us Nigerians because what we are doing today is what will elevate the country among the community of developed Nations.
“There is no way there can be any social economic development without infrastructure being put in place. Imagine when the service is fully operational, 29 minutes from Lagos to Abeokuta is amazing. it hasn’t been like that since the creation of this country.
“Let me explain one or two benefits that this will bring to all of us in Nigeria; I have mentioned that globally the economic situation in Nigeria will improve. Again, look at many people the train brought from Lagos to Abeokuta, for us to have an equal number of people, we need a minimum of 100 or 200 vehicles to put on the road.
“Aside from the huge numbers of vehicles, we will spend more time on the road. Again, when you have so many vehicles on the road, of course, safety concerns come in, and accident can happen. Look at our road itself, look at the pressure being put on our roads everyday. In all developed Nations, 80% of their freight is conveyed by rail, and why they do that, of course, is to take pressure off their roads.
“Look at our roads, roads that are designed for 30 tonnages, people will be putting maybe 60 tonnage trucks on it, and clearly the roads will disappear. So what we are doing today, we are trying to help all of us as a people. We are going to help our economy, our indices, because it will now be easy for us to move our goods to anywhere. Either you are going to Kano or you are going to Onitsha, or you are going to Aba, the time it will take by rail will be shortened, the problem that it will take will be lessened.
“So clearly now we can move maybe a thousand container or even five thousand containers just by one train in one day. Look at the employment it will create, and the indirect benefits to our young ones, our artisans and the transfer of technology to our people. Even though CCECC are the one driving this, but 95% of the people working here are Nigerians. Clearly, we are giving them experience, China is transferring that technology to us on how to do this and I am sure we are mastering it,” Governor Ibikunle Amosun stated.
Earlier In his own speech, Nigeria’s Nobel Laureate, Prof. Sole Soyinka cautioned the Minister from politicising the administrations’ achievement.
In his words, “I will disagree with the Minister because this is not a political gathering.
“I am here because this place used to be my hunting ground. My house is not far from here. I came to see what my hunting ground has been turned into.
“Looking at what this means to our traders and others, I don’t give a damn who puts the project here. It should not be a do or die affair, it should be a do and do affair. I want to congratulate everyone involved in this enterprise.”