Nobel Laureate, and human rights activist Prof. Wole Soyinka, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari over the Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge rail project.
Prof. Soyinka gave the commendation in Abeokuta at a reception organised to welcome the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who led a delegation of government functionaries on a test-run of the train from Iju station in Lagos to Abeokuta in Ogun.
The literary icon said that the Abeokuta station, located around Ori village, was not far from his house and that the place used to be part of his hunting ground.
He commended the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for the transformation brought to the Ori village and its environs.
Soyinka noted that the development would open up the area with attendant opportunities for small traders, artisans and other residents of Ogun.
“This is a creative work and I believe one of these days, on this particular platform, a rocket will go to the next planet,” he said.
Amaechi said that the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) would on Saturday commence a test run of free passengers ride from Abeokuta to Lagos for three months.
According to him, the journey from Abeokuta to Lagos will take only 29 minutes when the train is fully operational.
He gave assurance to residents of about 36 host communities affected by the project that the Federal Government would fix any challenge brought by the project.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the villagers, who also attended the ceremony, had complained of being cut-off from the urban centres and therefore requested for access roads and overhead bridges for linkage.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Land and Transportation, Sen. Gbenga Ashafa, also commended Buhari for “promise fulfilled”.
Ashafa, who recalled that rail infrastructure was one of the campaign promises of Buhari before he came to power, noted that he had delivered on his promises.
He said that about 11,000 Nigerians had secured employment through the rail infrastructure across the nation, adding that no fewer than 2,000 Nigerian students were currently studying in China pending the take-over of the project by Nigeria.
Ashafa said that the Senate had played its role concerning the project by providing the necessary legislative framework for the project.
The state governor, Sen. Ibikunle Amosun, described the development as “a life-changing experience in Nigeria”.
He said the rail infrastructure across the nation would revolutionise and transform the nation into an enviable height and would soon rank Nigeria among the developed nations of the world.
The Alake and Paramount Ruler of Egbaland, Oba Aremu Gbadebo, said that the development would transform Abeokuta metropolis into a mega city.
He urged the residents of Abeokuta to prepare for an influx of people from Lagos State as well as from Ibadan in Oyo state.
The monarch, who urged his subjects to be accommodating and tolerant, said that “unoccupied houses in the area will now be filled,” by the influx people from the two states.