As the Federal Government today test-runs the $1.5 billion Lagos-Ibadan rail line, the move has been contested by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and others familiar with the project.
Though meant to boost economic activities and the diversification programme of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the stakeholders, however, punctured the motive.
The main opposition party claimed that the move was as a “pre-election gimmick to hoodwink Nigerians and create an impression of performance.”
In a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP called on Nigerians to be “very cautious of the project as its opening without completion and installation of critical components and infrastructure will be a great risk to lives and property.”
It added: “The planned commissioning of an unfinished project is a reflection of the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s desperation to pad up its false performance record, for which Mr. president is prepared to jeopardise the lives of Nigerians.
“The Buhari presidency, which has displayed complete lack of capacity to improve or manage our railway, had resorted to appropriating the efforts of the PDP administration as well as lying about their non-existent railway performance just because the elections are around the corner.
“While the PDP welcomes any effort to reduce the pains of travelling between Iju, a suburb of Lagos, and Abeokuta, this premature commissioning is a self-serving charade by the Buhari presidency to hypocritically ingratiate itself to voters before the elections, after which it will be shut down because it is not completed.”
Findings by The Guardian indicate that the completion date of the project could be revised owing to a number of challenges.
Specifically, the tracks are yet to be laid in the Lagos metropolis.
Besides, the two bridges earmarked for demolition and reconstruction as well as gas, water and telecommunications infrastructure billed for relocation were yet to be executed in the former federal capital.
Government had, in 2017, hinted of plans to demolish the Jibowu and Costain bridges for smooth sail of the rail line.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who spoke than, had said the exercise would allow for a track from the old Fela Shrine to the WAEC end of the city in a manner that no vehicle could cross it.
The project, originally billed for completion in May 2020, was revised to March 31, 2019 allegedly due to pressure from within.
Amaechi had early last year gave a December 2018 deadline to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) to deliver the project, an order the contractor found uncomfortable, according to sources.
Reacting, the Chief Executive Officer of West Atlantic Cold-Chain and Commodities Limited, Henry Nwanguma, canvassed the political will to follow religiously with its master plan.
Principal Partner with Media Advocate Limited, Manny Philipson, submitted that the project could be executed without necessarily bringing down the bridges.