Due to much impediment on the right of way for the Lagos-Ibadan rail project earlier scheduled for completion by December 2018, the Federal Government has revealed that the project might no longer be feasible, expressing satisfaction with the work done so far.
This is coming even as it disclosed that 1400 houses inside Harmony Estate, not far from Oke-Mosan, in Abeokuta, Ogun State, have already been marked for demolition to give way for the standard gauge.
While addressing journalists after an on-the-spot assessment of the project in Abeokuta, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, explained that negotiations are ongoing with some villages along the projects right of way in Ijoko and Ewekoro area of the state which he said it is partly settled.
The minister said: "We are driving now to Abeokuta because we have some challenges over there. The contractor has identified over 1,400 buildings to be demolished in communities along the projects right of way right inside Abeokuta in Ogun State.
"I will have to meet with the Ogun State Governor to discuss with him.
"In Lagos, we still have issues with some gas and water pipelines. The Army has given us the barracks at Yaba area, so work can commence.
"We are rushing to make sure that we complete all the civil works on the project before the rainy season, because if we don't, then the civil works will have to wait until after the rainy season.
Amaechi said: "The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Water Corporation and Army were all with us. It is just a challenge to build a project like this through a cosmopolitan area.
"As regards compensation, there is huge cost overrun. With what we have in store for compensation and what we are meeting on the projects right of way, the cost overrun is huge, but we'll compensate the villagers whose houses are on the right of ways. Some attorneys are trying to collect 10 percent from them, consequently, we will pay directly to the claimants, let them go and collect it from them.
"On the job done so far, I am satisfied, even though the contractor is now behind schedule. Before, they were meeting up with the time schedule, but now, they are not; and the excuse they are giving me is that if we remove all the blockade on the right of way, they wouldn't be behind schedule.
"Because sometimes, we have to wait for days and weeks to get some of these issues sorted out, we are now running behind the time of the project completion."
According to Amaechi, "However, I won't be able to address the issue of lateness or not until December 2018, which is actually our target. Don't forget that this is a three-year project that we are trying to force into a one year project.
"The civil works is what they are currently battling with, and they cannot finish the civil works if the issues on the right of way are not sorted."
The inspection took the team, which included the senior officials of the ministry and the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria, to the project sites in Agbado, Ijoko, Itori, Papalanto and Abeokuta.