Not a few Nigerians must have noted with shock and disbelief the vicious, unrelenting campaign of calumny which has been raging against the Federal Ministry of Transportation for some time now on the social media and in the traditional media alike. It goes without saying that the motive of the sponsors of the wicked narrative is crystal clear: to smear the ministry and its immediate past helmsman on the one hand, and the government of President Muhammed Buhari on the other.
In brief, it was falsely claimed that the ministry allegedly indulged in padding the cost of the Lagos to Ibadan railway project, comparing it with a non-existent contract in the Republic of Ghana. It is important to note that the Ghanaian government has since refuted that publication and has even written to those concerned, expressing its dissatisfaction with the satanic allegation. In fact, the government of that country went on to describe that concoction as “containing a lot of factual inaccuracies.” In other words, the project in Ghana which was used as a so-called yardstick is at best at conceptual stage and has neither a construction design nor final cost estimate.
Against this backdrop, it is essential to clarify the true facts and figures, at least to set the record straight and disabuse the general public’s mind of the misinformation and outright fiction being dished out with reckless abandon. First of all, it is imperative to state for the benefit of the general public that railway project costs do not depend solely on the length/distance between the terminal points but rely on various factors which include principally the terrain, core operation accessories and amenities designated for the train service.
What then is the actual cost of the innovative Lagos to Ibadan project? What is the breakdown of what the whole thing entails the process of the contracts, and associated benefits to the country? To start with, the project is segmented into Addendum 2 and 2A. Addendum 2 starts from Ebute Meta (Lagos) to Ibadan and was approved by the Federal Executive Council on July 18, 2012 after the issuance of Certificate of No Objection by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) ref. no. BPP/S. 1/vol. VII/09/221 of January 14, 2010 at the cost of US$1,487,782,196.00 and addendum 2A that starts from Ebute Meta to Lagos Port complex, Apapa was approved by Federal Executive Council on November 30, 2016 after obtaining BPP No Objection ref. no. BPP/S. 1/vol. XII/16/053 of September 08, 2016 at the cost of US$94, 065, 175.00.
Thus the total contract sum of the whole segments 2 and 2A is US$1,581,847,371.00 contrary to the US$2billion being bandied all over the place. Furthermore, the total track length of the project is 386km (as against the 156km being alleged) which represents the distance between Ebute Meta (Lagos) and Ibadan terminal stations only. It is worth emphasizing that the Lagos to Ibadan project is a double track rail line. The cost index/km is US$4.09million/km as against the outrageous US$13.6million/km alleged.
Another significant fact which our investigation uncovered is that the aforementioned cost index per kilometer is not for the construction of rail track only. On the contrary, it consists of the following:
i. General: (site acquisition and compensation);
ii. Earthwork: With total volume of 28.1 million cubic metres to achieve required level of formation;
iii. Bridges (21 nos.) Railway bridges with overall length of 12.43km, 40nos. Vehicular overpasses (flyovers) and 27nos. pedestrian bridges)
iv. Culverts Drains and Protection Work:147no. major culverts and vehicular under passes;
v. Permanent Way: 320km main line, 64.4km comprising branch lines, station tracks, sidings and 2.27km of monolithic concrete bed track within the Apapa Port complex;
vi. Stations: Eleven (11) stations of which four (4) are mega stations with capacity to handle 4000 to 6000 passengers at peak hours and seven (7) other standard class stations, 3nos. freight yards at Apapa Harbour station, Kajola and Ibadan;
vii. Power Supply: 33kv dedicated power supply from the national grid with 4 substations and 200km approximate length of distribution line;
viii. Signaling and Communication: Full automatic blocking system of train control and detection signaling with ten (10) units of digital despatch system and a central traffic control. The communication system is GSM-R;
ix. Rolling Stock Workshops: Rolling stock workshops and depots in three locations on the corridor: Kajola, Abeokuta, Omi-Adio;
x. 5 Years Maintenance: Post – construction operation including training and supervision.
From the above, even the blind can note the huge benefits that are in embedded in the project in fact, there are some other benefits which the country is gaining from the Railway contracts towards improving local content and capacity building in the sector. These are:
i. Securing an investment portfolio of building a Rolling Stock Assembly Factor starting with a Wagon Assembly in Kajola, Ogun State;
ii. Establishment of University of Transportation with emphasis on Railway Science and Engineering Faculty in Katsina State; and
iii. Training of minimum of two hundred (200) youths in various degree courses in related field in Universities in China of which sixty (60) have commenced training since September 2018. These ancillary benefits are fully funded by the contractor.