By Kasim Sumaina
Abuja — The federal government, has expressed its readiness to commence the construction of the Ebute-Meta-Apapa rail project by December.
The move, government hinted was to curtail the lingering gridlock crisis along the corridor, thereby decongesting the seaport.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, gave the hint while inspecting the level of work done so far at the Lagos-Ibadan section of the project.
Amaechi, while disclosing the essence of the project rush despite APC winning the Presidential election, noted that it was to ensure that government have an ample time to face the issue of seaport decongestion.
While responding to the question by the CCECC Project Manager on why the federal government is rushing the project when the APC has won the presidential election, the Minister said: "Was the rush because of APC winning election? As a Minister of Transportation, you are Minister of APC as well as PDP. It was not about the APC winning because I have always known that APC will win the election.
"The problem is that there are too much congestions at the seaport, and gridlock in Lagos. The moment we finish this rail likely before December this year, we have to face Ebute Meta to Apapa, and the moment we finish it, nearly almost all the cargoes will be on the track.
"And once we put all the cargoes on the track, we would have resolved the problems of the gridlocks in Lagos and the issue of congestion at the seaport.
"That will equally create employment and economic growth and that is what the target of this government is. It is not about the APC or the PDP," he said.
Asked whether he was impressed with the level of work, he replied: "What we are saying is that the pace of work at kilometre 110 to 121 and kilometre 124 to 157 appear to be slow. However, they have promised to increase their speed and it has to do essentially with the equipment.
"The excuses they gave about lack of equipment at the site is laughable. They claimed that the pressure of work, which was initially 10 years but reduced to three years is affecting their machines. They also claimed that the machines have broken down and are undergoing repairs at their workshops," he said.
The former governor of Rivers state, equally reacted to the feasibility of President Muhammadu Buhari taking a train ride before his swearing in on May 29, noting: "The target is 50 50. We can achieve it if we want to, but what is the benefit of insisting on the train ride before May swearing in when the contractor has given us first or second week in June."
FG Acquires N5bn Aircraft Firefighter Equipment
The federal government has disclosed that it was set to take delivery of an automatic aircraft firefighter simulator equipment.
Minister of State, Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, who spoke after inspecting the equipment and the company facility with some government functionaries said the simulator was costing the nation about N5 billion and was key for airport operations.
Sirika, in a statement by the Deputy Director of Press, Ministry of Transportation, Mr. James Odaudu in Abuja, stated that, the builders, Messrs Alpine Metal Tech. Company had carried out the factory acceptance and pre-shipment inspection test of the simulator in presence of top Nigerian functionaries.
According to him, "The simulator, the first of its kind in Africa, is a modern- multi scenario fire fighting simulator capable of delivering training for different types of operational incidents involving aircraft in the aerodrome and its vicinity."
Sirika, said: "This is in fulfilment of the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority requirement for training of firefighters in the airports and will, overall, enhance competence in achieving the primary objective of saving lives in the event of a fire incident."
He revealed that the pre-shipment test, which took place in the United Kingdom Monday, showcased the full complements of about 28 possible fire/non fire scenarios carried out including; cabin fire simulation, cabin smoke, lavatory smoke and the likes.
He stressed that other simulation tests included DHC 8 starboard engine, DHC 8 starboard undercarriage, starboard side, CRJ-900 starboard engine, APU, portside, A320 Undercarriage, A320 Port engine, Port Wing, fuel spill burn pit, internal fires among the vast arrays of simulations it can imitate.
"Well the focus of the Buhari-led administration in civil aviation is safety and security, this is a component of it. We take matters of safety very seriously and His Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari once he came into office asked us Ministers to do those things that would put the nation forward.
"In aviation, our policy is safety first and security and this is a demonstration of it. Before now, we train our firefighters in Cameroon and I found myself approving several hundreds thousands in dollars for training in Cameroon and I said this is not the best.
"I applied and got approval to procure this firefighting simulator equipment and he graciously approved, costing the nation about N5 billion and we started it and now it is completed and it's ready for testing, it has been tested in front of us and you have seen it, it's in perfect working order and condition and we will install it at the Nigeria College of Aviation Technology, Zaria (NCAT).
"Now the impact on our nation is it would improve our safety fire cover, firefighting as an important aspect of airport operations without which we cannot open our airports.
"The only other simulator I know in Africa is in Cameroon and it is not as up to date, not as automatic or sophisticated, not as hi-tech, not as multi-functional. This one can simulate cabin fire, smoke, cockpit fire, cargo fire, undercarriage fire so this multi-functional."
Also speaking, Managing Director of Glovesly Pro-Project Limited Representatives of Messrs Alpine Metal Tech. Company in Africa, Mr. Yasir Tijani Abdullahi, who spoke at the event in the United Kingdom explained that the simulator was set to be delivered by the end of the month as everything is almost set for the installation in NCAT, Zaria.
He said: "Unlike other simulators, this is a real sized aircraft and has everything real. it is automatic and has a soft touch console. We are getting ready as it will be ready for shipping by the end of the month.
"This, however, a full aircraft and will have to be disassembled into separate parts for shipping and reassembled when in Nigeria."