By Mike Ochonma, Transport Editor
President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to perform the commissioning of the 157 kilometers Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project at the Ebute Metta Station now renamed Mobolaji Johnson Station.
The scheduled commissioning ceremony was preceded by the final inspection of the project by the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi on Wednesday, following which he said that the project is now ready for the occasion.
The China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), being the contractors of the project, are still on site putting finishing touches in some of the stations visited as at the time of filing this report.
The ground breaking ceremony of the new milestone achieved by the current administration was performed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on March 7, 2017.
The minister had disclosed that apart from moving passengers along the ever busy route, it is also aimed at ensuring the movement of cargo from the seaport at Apapa using the train as a means to decongest the ports.
“You can actually take a train to the seaport, but that is not just the end, we want to make sure that we are in position to move cargos from the seaport straight to the train, instead of transporting them a little further to put them on the train,” he said during an earlier inspection.
During the inspection of the various terminals and stations including; Apapa, Ebute Metta, Agege, Agbado, Kajola, Papalanto, Abeokuta, Olodo, Omi-Adio and Ibadan, where he interfaced with the team of project supervisors, and the contractors, the minister kept insisting on thoroughness.
In pickup related development, the President will also be commissioning the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure also known as the Deep Blue Project of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Overtime, the Nigerian maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea had seen spikes in piracy and armed robbery at sea. But since the deployment of assets under the Deep Blue Project began about two years ago, there have been drops in such security breaches.
The project aims to prevent illegal activities in the Nigerian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), enforce maritime regulations, enhance safety of lives at sea, and prevent illegal activities in the inland waterways.
In February, the federal government added the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA), off the coast of Lagos, to the areas under the protection of the Deep Blue Project.
Nigeria’s Deep Blue Project is an initiative of the federal ministry of transportation in collaboration with the federal ministry of defence. It is being implemented by NIMASA, with participation from the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Army, Nigerian Air Force, Nigeria Police, and Department of State Services.