President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday commissioned the $1.5 billion 156 kilometre Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway project for full commercial activities.
The president, while speaking at the commissioning of the railway service, which took place at the Mobolaji Johnson Railway Station in Ebute Metta, Lagos, described the feat as “another milestone in the drive of this administration to revitalise the railway system and establish it as a choice mode of transportation for both passengers and freight”.
He said that goods coming into the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa Port Quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot, located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country.
“This vital line establishes an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos-Ibadan, as goods to the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa port Quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country.”
“We have in the rail sector, further to other ongoing railway infrastructure projects, embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos-Kano railway, which is Ibadan-Kano,” he added.
“In clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by the absence of strong and effective infrastructure, we have embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos – Kano railway, which is Ibadan – Kano.
“The Lagos–Kano railway project, when completed, will link the Kano–Maradi line at Kano and a rail link from the Nigeria southern ports of Lagos to Maradi in the Niger Republic will be achieved.
“This will be beneficial to the economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation,” the President said.
He expressed delight that his directive to the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance on reaching financial agreements with appropriate co-financiers to partner with the Federal Government for the development of the Ibadan –Kano railway was yielding results.
He noted that Ibadan–Kano project would have a connection to the Tin Can Island Port and the West-East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba, and Uyo.
“From the beginning of this administration, railway infrastructure development has been given the priority it deserves.
“Various milestones have been reached, right from when the Abuja – Kaduna railway was flagged off for commercial operation in 2016 to this Lagos–Ibadan railway project being commissioned today for full commercial operation,” Buhari said.
While commending the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, for his drive and tenacity in achieving the milestone, the president praised the “wonderful team in the ministry’’ for a job well done.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, described the standard gauge rail project as a testament to the Federal government’s investment in Lagos State.
“It is indeed a pride to see a project start and end within the life span of an administration. The social and economic importance of this project cannot be overemphasized. The commissioning of this rail line has made it possible for people to work in Lagos and live in Ibadan,” he said.
Shortly after commissioning the project, Buhari took a ride from Ebute Metta Station to Energy Nature Light, Terminal, Apapa Port, Lagos.
He was joined by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Femi Gbajabiamila, Governors of Lagos, Ekiti, Oyo, Ogun states, and the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Lucky Ayeditiwa.
Others in the train were The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; the Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, and other ministers as well as some top government officials.