The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi on Monday disclosed that over 60 workers working on the Lagos-Ibadan railway project site have tested positive for COVID-19 infection.
The Minister added that construction work has therefore been put on hold to curb the further spread of the virus among the workers.
He added while speaking in Abuja that the completion of the project and subsequent inauguration will now depend on how soon the government is able to curb the rising cases of coronavirus infection in the country.
Amaechi thankfully noted that no life has been lost but the government would not want to endanger the lives of people, hence the decision to reschedule the project’s timeline.
He said, “First let us admit that over 60 of our staff, not Ministry of Transportation staff, but the staff working on the rail project, have been infected by COVID-19.
“Luckily nobody has died and I pray nobody will die, but you see the kind of sacrifice everybody is making to get the rail to function.”
He added, “There are people sacrificing their lives to get to that point. We are of the view when we made that decision that Nigerians will not say 2020 was a bad year.
“As far as we are concerned, we need to learn how to live with COVID-19 and I really want to congratulate those who achieved that feat.”
The Minister noted that the inauguration of the project which had earlier been scheduled for the first week of January was affected by the upsurge COVID-19 cases.
“We were to inaugurate (the railway project) in the first week of January. We had to stop those doing minor completion work because of the rise in COVID-19 transmission.
“The timeline for inauguration will depend on COVID. If COVID stops today or reduces we will inaugurate the project,” Amaechi said.
Meanwhile, the federal government of Nigeria has signed a $1.959 billion dollars Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mota-Engil Group for the construction of Kano-Maradi Standard Gauge Railway lines.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi signed on behalf of the federal government of Nigeria while the managing director of the company, Antonio Gvoea, signed on behalf of the firm in Abuja.
According to a statement from the Ministry of Transportation, the new (Kano–Maradi) railway corridor will run through Kano, Jigawa, and Katsina and through Niger Republic territory as far as Maradi and is expected to be completed in three years.