Lagos-Ibadan rail line must work before 2019 Election — Amaechi

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Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi

…As Summit urges African countries to leverage strengths toward integration***

The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi on Tuesday directed the Chinese Civil Engineering Company (CCECC), the contractors handling the Lagos-Ibadan railway to ensure that the train becomes operational before February 2019.

The 2019 elections are expected to hold anytime from February 2019.

Speaking during the monthly inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project in Papalando, Ogun State, the Minister stressed that the contractors must also ensure that the tracks and bridges were completed and the train must make transport sense.

“There must be train on the tracks before February. It doesn’t matter when, but there must be a train on the track that makes transport sense.

“What I mean by transport sense is that, it must be able to carry passengers from Abeokuta if not up-to Ibadan, we have agreed that everybody must work towards it.

“The next inspection is on December 18 and that is two weeks from now.

“Before, we used to have it once in a month but now it will be twice in a month to ensure that, that is achieved.

“So, we will be back here to ensure that what we have agreed to today will be implemented. The work is progressing rapidly, the weather is no longer an issue, the elements were an issue before, but now it is no longer an issue.

“You should know that on the 18th, we would have started campaign, the president has emphasised that we must build infrastructure,” Amaechi said.

According to him, out of 10 bridges only two was uncompleted noting that before the next inspection on Dec. 18, one must be completed.

Amaechi, speaking on his political job as Director-General of Buhari’s campaign, equally assured that the campaign won’t affect his work.

He said that Mr President was determined to build infrastructure stating that the monthly inspection would now hold every two weeks to ensure progress on the project.

Meanwhile, the 13th African Economic Conference (AEC) has called for African countries to leverage the full range of their strengths and resources to accelerate the region’s drive towards continental integration.

According to a joint opening statement from the UN, participants made the call at ongoing conference in Kigali, Rwanda.

The conference, jointly organised by the UN Development Programme, the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and the African Development Bank, follows the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).

The AfCTA was signed in March by 44 countries and seen as an ambitious effort to form what has the potential to be the world’s biggest free trade agreement.

It aims to create a single continental market of goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments across Africa.

Speaking during the conference’s opening ceremony, Claudine Uwera, Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of Economic Planning said: “Africa’s integration is no longer a choice.

“It’s a must for the continent and its people. To become the global player that it deserves to be, Africa should integrate speedily.”

Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, UNDP Regional Director for Africa observed: “African countries need to collaborate more effectively in devising public policies that can create skills, foster innovation and technological advancement, facilitate labour mobility and access to productive assets including land and finance.”

Speaking to the urgency of ratifying the AfCFTA, Ms. Giovanie Biha, ECA Deputy Executive Secretary said: “It’s time to ratify AfCFTA; the more ambitious the liberalisation, the higher will be the gains in terms of increase in GDP and exports.”

Gabriel Negatu, Director-General, African Development Bank, stated: “We are committed to continue supporting Africa’s integration agenda for it will lead to sustained growth and allow the continent to withstand external pressures; enable African companies to grow and become global giants.”

AEC 2018 debates are expected to focus on four main themes which are conceptual underpinning of Africa’s integration and infrastructure and institution for Africa’s integration.

Other are leveraging private sector for Africa’s integration; partnerships for effective integration that address impediments to Africa’s regional and continental integration.