The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has ordered the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to re-evaluate its existing assets at the Apapa Ports, to create space for the proposed Apapa rail station. Amaechi said this on Saturday while inspecting the site for the proposed station, which is part of the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan standard guage rail project in Lagos.
According to him, after inspecting the site, the railway property at Apapa actually calls for an audit, to know which of the property is still on lease, as well as those whose lease had expired.
“How can the NRC acquire its own property, if all this property is for the NRC and it is leased out? We need to know for how many years, if it has expired or not.
“Let us revalue them. If we are to convert some of the property for the proposed station, will that make economic sense or not? Or do we modify them into a Hotel or a Shopping Mall, just as we have done at the Ebute Meta station?
“They should not just evaluate but also identify the owners of such assets, and if we have leased them out, they have no choice but to pay.
“If the lease has expired, the owners do not have a choice than to hand over the property back to us, but we have to do an audit before that,’’ he said.Speaking on issues hindering the use of rail to transport cargo to the Apapa port, the minister said only the standard guage lines could be used to increase the volume of cargo that could be transported daily.
“We have yet to construct the standard guage, and until that happens, you can’t be able to move enough cargo.
“Currently, I hear we are moving about 200 to 300 thousand tonnes of cargo yearly. We need to make sure that the tracks are functioning properly to enable us to be able to move more cargo,’’ he said.
The minister said that work was ongoing on the Jibowu and Costain bridges that would be demolished.
“There are two bridges we are going to demolish in Lagos; one is at Jibowu and the other is at Costain. But we have to finish construction before we demolish, because Lagos is such a heavy economy that if you demolish without first of all constructing the alternative bridges, you cause serious crisis with the traffic.
“So, we will first finish construction before we demolish the Jibowu Bridge. They have commenced with Costain; when they finish with the construction and get the traffic relieved, then we demolish the old bridges,’’ he said.
Also speaking, the Managing Director of NRC, Mr Fidet Okhiria, said that the Apapa station would be completed within seven months.
He said that those using the corporation’s property at the Apapa station only got temporary licences, adding that after revaluation. they would be made to handover the assets to the corporation.
Journalists report that Amaechi inspected the Jibowo and Costain bridges, the Apapa rail station, as well as the Papalanto site in Ogun during the visit.