Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Igbo youths under the aegis of Coalition of South-East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, have given three days ultimatum to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), handling the 63 kilometer Eastern Narrow Railway project and Mr Fidet Okhiria, Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), to properly complete the project or face mass protest.
The ultimatum is coming on the heels of a statement credited to the firm that it had completed the Port Harcourt- Aba section of the rail track.
Dismissing the statement as “total falsehood,” COSEYL in a statement by its President General Comrade Goodluck Ibem, threatened to mobilise Igbo youths for a 1 million-man protest if the contractor failed to make necessary amends in three days.
COSEYL said the the project was “shabbily executed.”
The statement made available to Ikengaonline read: “For the avoidance of doubt, the Port Harcourt – Aba Railway Line has not been fully completed. Any claims that it has been completed should be discarded because it is not true.
“The job was shabbily done by the contractors and we will not accept such shabby job that was not executed accordingly.
“A close observation of the project by anyone who is not even an engineer will not approve the project as completed.
“The CCECC removed the asphalt along Aba – Owerri Road, Uratta Road and other roads where the rail line crossed and poured gravel on the roads which makes it very difficult for vehicular movements.
“The did not pour sufficient gravels along the railway lines which will affect the movement of train. Some bolts and nuts are not in place along Uratta axis of the railway line.
“After the construction of the railway line, vehicles cannot pass through Ukwuachara by rail; Ojoto by rail; and other roads that crossed the rail which were before now passable when we had the old rail line.
“The shabby job they did have affected free flow of vehicular movements. There is need to get back to work immediately to complete their job.”
The apex Igbo socio-political youth group accused the contractor of using substandard materials on the project.
“CCECC used inferior material to do their job. The rail line steel is inferior and is not straight which can led to trains falling off from the tracks. The rail steel used where we have a road crossing is a little stronger than where there is no road crossing. The job is poorly executed and we condemn it in its entirety.”
COSEYL argued that the rehabilitation of the railway line was not intended to make life difficult for the people but rather to make things easy for Nigerians, wondering why the contractor chose to do a poor job.
“What we see today after the shabby job is worrisome. People stay in traffic for 4 to 5 hours just to pass through a railway crossing. What a wickedness!”
COSEYL called on the CCECC to immediately get back to work and complete the project “and stop making things difficult for the people.”
“If after three days, we did not see them on site making the necessary amends and corrections, we will embark on a one million-man march protest against the CCECC contractors and will not stop until all the contracts given to them in South-East are revoked and given to competent and reliable contractors.”