Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has attributed delay in the commissioning of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line to the increment in the number of coronavirus infections witnessed in many states of the federation in the past two weeks.
Amaechi disclosed this while reviewing the performance of the Ministry in the past few years and the outlook for 2021 as guest of the Nigeria Television Authority, NTA, Breakfast programme, the Morning Show on Monday.
According to him, scores of staff on project site numbering about 60 have been infected by the dreaded virus, noting however that to the glory of God, none of them has died, saying
“I pray that nobody will die, but you can see the kind of sacrifice everybody is making to get the rail to function.”
“As far as we are concern, we need to learn how to live with COVID-19. I really want to congratulate those that achieve this feat.
We were to inaugurate it in the first week of January. We had to stop doing minor completion because of the rise in COVID-19 transmission.”
According to him,
“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 alive.”
The Minister also read the riot act to those bent on 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 passengers on any route found to be culpable.
“If the Lagos-Ibadan passengers flout the COVID protocols, we will stop the train (services). 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,” he advised.