A group The Thursday Group (TTG), has raised concern over the diversion of Lagos-Calabar rail route by Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi which was meant to pass through Ogun State, stating that the decision might impact of the economy of the state.
This is just as they has petitioned the Ogun State House of Assembly over the pronouncement of the Minister of Transport redirecting the proposed Calabar-Lagos rail line.
According to premiumtimesng.com, Kola Onadipe, the convener of the group, said in the petition that the minister’s declaration was against the interest of the Ogun State economy.
At the launch of the Ogun State Strategic Transport Master Plan and Flag-Off of Gateway Bus Pilot Scheme two weeks ago, Rotimi Amaechi, the transport minister, said President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the redesign of the Lagos-Calabar rail route.
The initial design, approved by the Federal Executive Council, was for the route to pass through Ore in Ondo State, to Ogun State, and then end at Apapa in Lagos.
But Mr Amaechi said because of the traffic congestion at Apapa, the project would now go to Lagos through Ore, Epe, and end at the Lekki deep seaport.
“Surprisingly, and perhaps ignorantly, every person seated as participants at the Gateway Bus launch, clapped for the minister [when he made the declaration],” said Mr Onadipe.
He said with the initial railway design in view, a lot of public and private investments had kicked off at the Ogun Agro-Cargo Airport. which hitherto has a train station at Iperu and the new dual carriage Ijebu Ode-Epe recently commissioned by the president.
He said the latter was executed in advance to take secondary cargo from Lekki to the rail station earlier designed at Ijebu-Ode-Ilese.
“Same with the expected road construction to carry cargo from Olokola Free Trade Zone to link up with the train station at Alakuko on the now cancelled rail route from Ore-Kajola-Alakuko-Ijebu Ode-Iperu-Itori, which link the already commissioned Lagos-Ibadan Rail line.”
The petition said new towns, educational institutions, and industrial estates are already emerging along the rail routes in Ogun State in anticipation of the project.
It accused the minister of “political and economic ignorance” by diverting or redirecting the rail routes from the established viable route as contained in the pre-Development and Feasibility Studies (as approved in 2012-13 by FEC).
“We are aware of many industries, educational institutions, and housing development companies that have applied and received respective state government land allocations along its route, to commence development based on citing Rail Lines/Stations in and around surrounding environments.”
The petition further stated that considering international economic parameters, some governments, and private sector players have based their feasibility and viability reports on the distance of these respective projects to the rail line and stations.
‘‘Indeed Itori in Ogun Central Senatorial District, and which is located within 15 minutes drive from Ilaro in Ogun West Senatorial District, has advantageously positioned the railway station as major intersection Transport Hub from SE, SS, and NC, linkage to Lagos.
“This places Itori Railway Station as earlier designed, before the unilateral redirection by the Minister, in the league of Victoria Station in UK, where more than four railway lines converge for easy of movement of passengers and goods.”
The petition said instead of the federal government to redirect the rail route from Ore to Lekki, it could design and approve several T-off rail line to the already signed route, as later variation, at Ijebu-Ode-Ilese Station.
It added that the people of Ogun State would mobilise against the cancellation of the Ore-Kajola-Ijebu-Ode-Iperu-Itori Rail route, if the government does not reconsider and reverse its decision immediately.