The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has revealed that more than 60 persons working on the Lagos-Ibadan rail project site have been infected by the Covid-19 virus.
The Minister while speaking on a Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) programme, on Monday, however noted that despite the high number of infected workers on the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, no death has been recorded.
This is even as the minister added that the rise in the number of infections across the federation is behind the delay in the commissioning of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to him, “Over 60 of the people working on the Lagos-Ibadan rail project have been infected by Covid-19. However thanks to God, no death has been recorded. I pray that nobody will die. Hope you can see the kind of sacrifice everybody is making to get the rail to function.
“As far as we are concerned, we need to learn how to live with COVID-19. I really want to congratulate those that achieved this feat. We were to inaugurate the Lagos-Ibadan train in the first week of January. We had to stop doing minor completion because of the rise in COVID-19 transmission.
“The timeline for the inauguration is dependent on COVID-19. If it stops today, we will need additional two weeks. It may not even need to stop completely. If it reduces drastically, we will be happy to go ahead and commission. This was our expectation but unfortunately, it shot up. So, everybody has to wait and watch what is going on and make sure we keep safe and stay alive.”
The minister also strongly criticised those flouting safety measures put in place to checkmate the spread of the virus, adding that the ministry would not hesitate to stop the movement of passenger trains on any route found to be culpable.
“If the Lagos-Ibadan passengers flout the Covid-19 protocols, we will stop the train services on such route. Don’t forget that we convey about 4,000 passengers in a day on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line. Now, imagine that about 20 persons have coronavirus. They can transmit same to the entire 4,000 passengers. If we take 2,000 to Abuja and 2,000 to Kaduna, the rate of transmission will be very high. We can’t continue that way. The same is applicable to Lagos. For us, we insist that everybody must obey the protocols. Wear your mask throughout the journey till you step down,” the minister warned..
He also added that save for minor installations here and there, the Lagos-Ibadan route is ready for commissioning in line with the January 2021 deadline given to the contractors handling the mega project.
He said, “We have done over 96 per cent of the work. What is remaining is minor issue here and there on the stations, not on the bridges. We can run and people are using it. The only thing is that we are not allowing them to use the stations so that they don’t destroy anything. We have furniture left to fix. A lot of the bridges, either overpasses or underpasses have been completed.”