The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Friday, said contractors working on some critical rail lines in parts of the country had expressed fears over their safety, following the spate of insecurity across Nigeria.
The minister, who spoke during a visit to the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Farouk Yahaya, in Abuja, called on the Nigerian Army to come to the aid of the frightened workers made up of locals and foreigners.
Noting that the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line frightened them the most, he requested heavy presence of the military as the contractors planned to resume work.
Amaechi told Yahaya, “We are about to resume work on the Kano-Abuja rail line and the contractors are very scared of their safety. They want us to seek your assistance to provide security for them. The work is starting this month. We need an adequate presence of the military.
“We have Nigerians among them, and there are also Chinese. Similarly, there are Portuguese that will start work from Kano to Maradi. This same month or latest by July, we may start work on Port Harcourt-Maiduguri, that is the one that frightens us the most.
“We didn’t think we would need the involvement of the military for security for Kano-Maradi but the way it is now, we are scared that if we must work from Bauchi to Gombe to Maiduguri and Yobe, we actually need to depend on the military, or else they won’t let us work at all.”
The minister also called on the Army chief to direct personnel to vacate the military market in Oshodi to enable contractors to complete their work.
He added, “I came to brief you on our works, especially where it relates with the Nigerian Army. The most important one is that we first had an interaction with the Army; we had to slightly invade your market in Oshodi, Lagos.
“We have finished paying but the military has yet to vacate and it is giving us a problem to conclude. The President will commission it on June 10 and we need to do a road through that market and take some parts of the land.
“We have not been able to access it. I decided that the best thing to do is not to write a letter but to pay you a visit.”
Yahaya promised to intervene so as to hasten the relocation process and pledged to provide the contractors with the needed security.
He said, “I wonder why we have not vacated. Even though I know that many times, there are challenges such that if we have soldiers or troops in an area, it is not easy, even if they have been relocated. It is not as easy as turning on and switching off lights.