The Federal Government yesterday said that the May 29 date earlier scheduled for the commencement of operation of the Abuja-Kaduna rail project was no longer feasible.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaech, attributed the shift of flag-off date to government’s inability to speedily resolve compensation issue with the management of Daughter of Charity Hospital, Kubwa, one of the fastly growing cities in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Amaechi, who made the disclosure at a meeting with the management of the hospital whose buildings are obstructing the rail tracks, explained that the coaches had arrived and that the operation would commence as soon as the compensation issue was sorted out.
He clarified: “I have been told by the engineers not to give time anymore. The reason is that they don’t want to be rushed into making mistakes so that we don’t have a major crisis in our hands.
Our target is that between May and June we should be able to be on the commercial aspect of the railway so that we can convey passengers, but we are having problem with how to convey people from Abuja.
“So, as it is now, May 29th is not feasible. I was pushing them to meet up with May 29th but the team in their own wisdom said we may make mistake if we continue to push. So they have pleaded with us to allow them to keep to their own time table. So, they said we should give them more time to finish the alignment”, the minister added.
On the challenges that stalled the delivery date of the rail project, he disclosed that the hospital’s management refused that they demolish their place and straighten the alignment but now, we have agreed that demolition will start from Wednesday (tomorrow) and that the fencing will start from today (Tuesday).
He promised that government would keep to its own side of the bargain and that the Certificate of Occupancy of the hospital building had been given to the owners while the construction company, CCECC, has agreed to fencing the hospital buildings but not the entire buildings and the convent which is the residence of the sisters and the doctors.
Amaechi projected that when completed, the rail project would create employment for about 1,000 people. On the compensation plan for the hospital, the minister said, “there are two choices we gave the hospital; we said we will pay them N362 million and CCECC has kindly agreed to give extra N50million as their donation or they allow CCECC to build the hospital and the convent and if they are allowed to build, it will be more than the N50 million they are planning to donate. National Mirror.