Eleven months after construction work commenced on the Kano-Kaduna rail project, the Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo, has revealed that the project is only 12 percent completed.

The Minister however explained that the proposed alteration in the contract awarded was responsible for the slow pace of work.

Sambo also disclosed that the project was faced with the challenge of land encroachment and safety of the workers.

The 203 kilometres project is the third segment of the Lagos-Kano railway modernization project of the present administration.

He however said he would meet with the Governor of Kano State, Abdullahi Ganduje to intervene in the issue of land encroachment.

He also said he would engage the Armed Forces and the Police to design security templates for all the existing rail projects and future ones.

The minister said this in Kano during an inspection tour of the Kano-Kaduna rail project.

On the level of work, he said: “I must be very honest that 12 percent completion is not what I expected to see but there is an explanation to the effect that even though the contract was awarded for single track initially, there is an agreement to do a double track.

“So, the formation they are doing is for a double track pending when the decision for the double track would be finalised, signed and agreed.

“So, I can understand why it is just 12 percent after eleven months. It is not bad especially given the circumstances surrounding our communities. I think the contractors are doing a good job and the ministry is also doing very well.

“I hope that going forward, we can fast-track this project and finish it as quickly as we can. It is a priority project, it is a critical national asset that will add value not only to the communities in which the rail line passes through but to the entire country.

“We know that most of the agricultural products in Nigeria are produced in the northern part of the country and taken to the south while goods that are imported into the country that comes through the seaports have to come from the south. So, it is an understatement if I say that this project is critical to the wellbeing of Nigerians.”

On the challenges and how to address them, Sambo said: “There are two types of challenges we are facing here, one is the issue of the safety of the workers while the other is mainly on encroachment on lands that have already been acquired by the ministry.

“The second challenge is a simple one to deal with. I intend to have a high-level meeting with the governor of Kano State in order to address the issues of encroachment.

“For securing the lives of workers; I intend to engage the armed forces and the police in order to device a template for security not only along this corridor but it will serve as a template for all other corridors that we are going to be doing whether it be existing contracts along different sections or for new ones that will come up later.

“The challenges are not insurmountable and we will surmount them in no time because we intend to give all our energies and all we have to make sure that this project is a success”.

The Minister also proceeded to inspect the progress of work at the University of Transportation in Daura, Katsina.

He said the work was 60 percent completed, adding that the completion date of the project would be revised.

He said: “I am impressed with the work. This entire project is CSR on the part of CCECC, therefore it is highly commendable. The project only started last year and you can see how fast spread they have gone. They are almost 60 percent completed.

” Their intention was to commence academic session in September this year but due to circumstances beyond their control, it is not possible but I can see evidence of real commitment.

“The ministry has done sufficiently enough to get them motivated to achieve the desired result, I am really impressed.

“I have asked the consultant to sit down with the contractor and revise the completion schedule and revert to the ministry in a week. I have urged them to try to see if they can complete phase one at least by December so that we can think about the academic session taking place.”