Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi has said that 60 rail workers have contacted the dreaded COVID-19 disease and that this has delayed the scheduled inauguration of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line.
Ameachi disclosed this, on Monday, on a Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) programme, Good Morning Nigeria.
The rail project, which was delivered recently, and had since been in use, is the second rail project completed in 2020. The Itakpe-Warri was the first and was commissioned on September 29, 2020.
The minister had disclosed at the inauguration of elected members of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIoTA) that the Lagos-Ibadan rail will be commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari, in January 2021.
He, however, said the commissioning will be put on hold, due to the upsurge of COVID-19 in the country.
“First let us admit that over 60 of our staff, not ministry of transport staff, but the staff working on the rail project have been infected by COVID-19. Luckily nobody has died and I pray nobody will die, but you see the kind of sacrifice everybody is making to get the rail to function.
He said, “First let us admit that over 60 of our staff, not Ministry of Transport staff, but the staff working on the rail project, have been infected by COVID-19. Luckily nobody has died and I pray nobody will die but you see the kind of sacrifice everybody is making to get the rail to function.
“They are people sacrificing their lives to get to that point. We are of the view when we made that decision that Nigeria will not say 2020 was a bad year, so remove one year and add another year to Buhari administration.
“As far as we are concern, we need to learn how to live with COVID-19. I really want to congratulate those that achieve that feat, we were to inaugurate first week in January.
“We had to stop those doing minor completion because of the rise in COVID-19 transmission. The timeline for inauguration will depend on COVID-19. If COVID-19 stop today or reduces we will commission the project.”
Amaechi also said that train services may be discontinued on all routes if passengers do not adhere to COVID-19 protocol.
“We will allow the train to run but if we see that we are conveying passengers who have COVID-19 from Lagos to Ibadan, we will stop it. Just like we are threatening to stop Kaduna-Abuja if people don’t comply with the COVID-19 protocol,” he said.
He said that the Abuja-Kaduna route convey about 4,000 passengers daily, stating that if anyone transmits COVID-19 onboard, it would be “a serious challenge”.