Relocation of oil, gas pipelines stalls completion of $1.5b rail project

The December 2018 deadline set for completion of the $1.5b Lagos-Ibadan rail project, may not be feasible, The Guardian has leant.Investigations revealed that the project appears to have overshot the amount earlier budgeted for it, due to unforeseen developments at the Apapa end of the railway.

It was further leant that the Federal Ministry of Transportation has already compiled all incidental items and additional costs to overshoot the $1.5 billion initially earmarked for it.The ministry is set to submit the situation report to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for consideration and necessary approval.

A document obtained by The Guardian showed that the cost overrun was necessitated by the need to accommodate the relocation of oil and gas pipelines in the port axis. Although, sources said the consultant, Messrs. TEAM Nigeria Limited is currently considering a cost effective solution, by constructing protective structures over the oil and gas pipelines, instead of outright relocation of the pipes.

However, the detection of many underground oil and gas pipelines have remained a challenge for the project consultant, specially with the use of a Geo-Radar equipment to detect underground pipelines that are likely to be deployed.“This wasn’t part of the project budget. The project didn’t envisage the use of a Geo-Radar equipment at inception, and this also forms part of the project overrun that the minister has already directed,” the source added.

It was leant that a major part of the cost overrun was the Apapa port rail sidings initially budgeted at 2.4km, but now estimated at 6.4km.The rail sidings are expected to connect all the port terminals to the standard gauge rail, even though the rail sidings were budgeted, based on 2.4km calculation.He said: “We will definitely have such scenario’s as the project progresses. Many of the issues we are having now were not envisaged at inception.”

Amaechi had promised the December date after a meeting with Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, and had given a marching order to China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) to work day and night, including Sundays, to meet the deadline.He said: “We are already close to 2019 general elections and we must commission this railway project, as the All Progressives Congress (APC) promised Nigerians, and we cannot afford to fail.”