SWITZERLAND, AUGUST 18 – Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said that over 20,000 Nigerians are engaged in the ongoing construction of the Lagos-Ibadan standard rail.
This, he said, is in compliance with the local content law inherent in the $1.6 billion contract agreement between Nigeria and China.
On Saturday, August 15, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) announced that the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge Rail line will start operating from the middle of September with 16 trips daily while work continues on the extension to Apapa Port.
Amaechi revealed the number of Nigerians engaged in the project at a public hearing in Abuja, Monday, while responding to concerns by the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements that local content was not observed in the course of the project.
He said, “There are over 20,000 Nigerian workers employed for the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project, only 560 of the workers on that project are Chinese,” adding that most materials for the project were locally sourced except for those that were manufactured outside Nigeria.
“We have over 150 Nigerians being trained as Engineers in China.
The Chinese has also built two training institutions for us, one at Idu and the other one is the Transportation University in Daura, Katsina state.”
The minister also revealed that only a contract of $1.6 billion was awarded by the present administration in the Ministry of Transportation as against the allegations by the committee chairman, Hon. Nicholas Ossai that there was a $33 billion contract awarded by the present administration.
“Mr. Chairman, there is no $33bn contract in the Ministry of Transportation. What we have is $1.6bn awarded by this government for Lagos-Ibadan, for which the Chinese government is providing $1.2bn and we are providing the remaining $400m.”
Amaechi restated that the coastal rail project may not sail through if the House committee continues its investigations on the project before the loan is granted.