The 156 – kilometre new Lagos -Ibadan railway will be ready in May this year , the Managing Director , Nigerian Railway Corporation , Mr Fidet Okheria , has said .

He also said commercial operation would commence on the 85km Iju – Abeokuta section of the new standard gauge line after the ongoing free train ride by passengers on the line expected to last for three months .

The Iju – Abeokuta section of the standard gauge new railway is currently operating a daily free train, which will last for three months .

This is after the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi , led several dignitaries including Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State and Alake of Egbaland , Oba Adedotun Gbadebo , on a train ride from Iju to Abeokuta on February 8 to signify the commitment of the Federal Government to the new railway project .

Okheria , who spoke on the telephone with SUNDAY PUNCH on Friday , said appreciable progress had been recorded on the railway project.

“ The entire stretch of the new line from Lagos to Ibadan would have been completed in May this year , ” he added .

Responding to a question by our correspondent on what was left to be done, the NRC managing director said the contractor handling the project , China Civil Engineering and Construction Company , would need to lay rail track from Iju to Ebute Meta and extend it to the Lagos port.

He said the contractor had also done substantial work on the Ibadan – Abeokuta end of the project because it had approached the construction simultaneously from both the Lagos and Ibadan ends when the project started .

Okheria also said the CCECC was not expected to encounter much difficulty in the execution of the Lagos – Iju work having secured the cooperation of the Lagos State Government and other affected stakeholders and had jointly agreed on how to handle the various knotty issues.

About 30 coaches , including two sets of the diesel multiple unit , would be dedicated to the new line after the three months ’ free train ride , the NRC boss said .

The Deputy Director , Public Relations at the NRC , Mr Yakubu Mahmoud , said the three- month free train period was also to enable the corporation to effectively determine the number of trains that would be run on the route when full commercial operation commenced .

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo , who was initially billed to grace the test ride with Amaechi , was absent . No reason was given for his absence .

Nobel Laureate , Prof. Wole Soyinka , at the inauguration of the first phase of the Lagos -Ibadan standard gauge rail in Abeokuta , warned against politicising the project.
He said , “ This is not a political vote gathering but my house is somewhere in that direction not far from here and this used to be part of my hunting ground .

So , I came to see for what my hunting ground was appropriated and so far, so content . ”

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