The Fiscal Responsibility Commission (FRC) says the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project has met the agency’s mandate of ensuring value for money and expected to be completed according to standards.
Mr Ibrahim Dauda, Director of the Audit Department, FRC, made the assertion during an inspection conducted by the agency’s team on the project in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the FRC’s inspection of the Nigerian Railway Modernisation Project focuses on the Lagos-Ibadan section with extension to Apapa Port.
According to him, the project has substantially met the criteria for transparency and accountability in the management of the funds.
“The team have been to the site of the ongoing construction of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line which passes through Abeokuta.
“From the briefing we have received and seen on the site, the project will be substantially completed and delivered.
“We are happy that the Federal Government has always been meeting up with its funding and the China Eximbank has been up too. Their commitment has assisted in the project.
“The Fiscal Responsibility Commission has the mandate to ensure that all projects promote prudent and transparent fiscal management in the country.
“This means ensuring that all projects have value for money, they are completed according to standards, transparency and accountability, particularly in the management of funds.
Dauda commended the government on efforts taken so far in ensuring the project became a reality.
“We can say that this project has met substantially that criteria. So, it is going to be to the benefit of the country that this project is completed as envisaged. That is, it goes beyond Ibadan,’’ the auditor added.
Also, Mr Chukwudum Ugonabo, the Resident Engineer, Ministry of Transport, said that the Federal Government had always released funds as and when due for the project.
Ugonabo said that the contract which has a completion period of 36 months would come to an end in May 2020 and was broken into stages to achieve the deadline target on time.
He said the consultants had promised the minister that the project would be delivered on time.
Mr Leonardo Portanova, Project Manager, China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), while receiving the team, said the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail double track project might be completed even be before the deadline.
Portanova said the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail double track had reached a little bit above 60 per cent level of completion.
He also said that the construction had gone beyond the initial 65 to 75 kilometres out of the total 156 kilometers, starting from the Apapa Port as cargo handling operation to Iju-Agbado, introduced as a new station and to Papalanto-Abeokuta.
He said: “All indications are showing that if things go as it should, we should be able to complete the project even before the completion date.
“Construction on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail double track has advanced from the 65 kilometer to 75 kilometer distance.
The consultant also said that the railway modernisation project would be stretched from Abeokuta to Ibadan by the end of June.
Contributing, the Deputy Project Manager, CCECC, Mr Loutfi Saad, said that 10 stations were designed along the entire corridor from Apapa Port complex to Ibadan and were classified according to the nature of the operations.
Saad said that included the passengers, technical operations, passing and intermediate stations.
On current progress in terms of survey and design, he noted that the company had recorded 98 per cent and 90 per cent respectively.
Others include row land acquisition and site works which include completion of 600mm water pipe relocation, porta-cabin for operation of narrow gauge in Lagos and ongoing piling of Costsin Bridge ADK1+800 among others.
Mr Leo Pin, also a deputy project manager, spoke on the challenges the company experienced, noting that they included gas and petroleum pipelines which were submerged underground and in the sea, high tension power lines and overhead bridges.
He also said the government on its part paid compensation to those whose buildings and structures were affected by the ongoing project.
This, he added, was an extra cost borne by the government but which were not budgeted for initially.
NAN reports that the government of President Goodluck Jonathan initiated and signed the Lagos-Ibadan Railway Project which was meant to last for three years.
The project was meant to start in 2012 and end in 2015 but due to how the government works, the present government inherited it and started work.
The project is being executed in six phases, saying that the project would cover 2,733 kilometres. (NAN)