Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Amaechi has warned that Ibadan, the Oyo state capital, is at risk of experiencing another Apapa port like gridlock once the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line is completed.
Amaechi sounded this warning in Ibadan on Tuesday, during a visit to Governor Abiola Ajimobi in his office and an inspection of the rail line expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Noting that the Apapa gridlock was bound to ease off with the commencement of commercial activities on the rail line, Amaechi said the incoming Governor Seyi Makinde led government must begin to the think of the “traffic madness” that was set to be foisted on Ibadan.
Coupled with the set to commence new Ibadan inland dry port (IDP) at Olorisa-Oko village in Akinyele Local Government area, Amaechi said the traffic madness was expected to subsist until the Ibadan to Kano rail line was completed.
To ease the gridlock, Amaechi urged the Makinde government to, on assumption of office, fix the adjoining untarred express road close to the dry port site.
“I see two things that the Oyo government is not preparing for and you (Ajimobi) should call the attention of your successor (Makinde) to them.
“Once we complete that Lagos-Ibadan track and commercial activities start, I suspect that Apapa gridlock will ease off and if we are not careful, Ibadan gridlock will start.
“Until we are able to do Ibadan to Kano track, there are chances that the traffic will transfer to Ibadan and there will be traffic madness in Ibadan.
“Also at the point, you have Ibadan dry port, there is a road close to the express road but not tarred. So if you do a tarred road to the express, it will ease the gridlock a bit and the earlier it is done, the better for Ibadan people,” Amaechi stated.
He, however, said Ibadan and all residents of the state will gain benefits of the rail track and dry port in terms of increased employment opportunities, more businesses and an improved economy.
Also on the visit, Executive Secretary, Nigeria Shippers Council, Mr Hassan Bello said the new Ibadan Inland Dry Port project, on a 90 hectares of land expanse allocated by the Oyo state government, would cost $99,665,626.
Bello added that the dry port will enhance the nation’s cargo handling capacity and help decongest our seaports.
In his response, Ajimobi avowed that Ibadan rather than experience the Apapa expressway like gridlock, the state capital will be home to a gridlock of progress and immense growth of commerce.
He also highlighted the benefits of the inland dry port project to include economic growth, more job opportunities and improved standard of living of residents of the state.
“The rail project and in extension, the Ibadan Inland Dry Port, for which we are here to do an exchange of letters and documentation today will go a long way to improve the economy and propel personal growth of people and businesses in Our State.
“We are happy this is happening in our time, we are part of this history and we are grateful to God for this.
“On the fear of traffic gridlock, I assure you that Ibadan will only experience a gridlock of commerce, and economic growth and not that of thuggery and disharmony. We shall work with the incoming administration to ensure effective physical infrastructural inputs to avoid traffic congestion,” Ajimobi said.