By Adelola Amihere
Minister of Transportation, Hon.Chibuike has said that Niger Republic will have no financial role to play in the construction of the Kano-Maradi Rail line as it will be handled solely by Nigeria.
Amaechi explained on national television programme that the idea for the rail line was to attract Niger to patronise a cheaper mode of transportation for its cargoes which the rail would offer thereby translating into huge economic benefit for the country.
He said: “We are the ones building the rail to their village at the border to attract their cargoes. They are comfortable going to Togo, Benin Republic and Ghana or all those countries around there. So what we want to do is to attract them to a cheap and secure form of transportation, so you can’t therefore ask them to make a contribution.
“We are going to do the $1.98 billion at our own cost and at Maradi we stop, so that we can attract their cargoes and then get our seaports to be more competitive as compared to Lome, Benin and Ghana”.
Also clearing the political insinuations trailing the approval of the rail line, the Minister insisted that the decision to construct the rail line was purely economical.
“Last week, we awarded the contract for Kano to Maradi and people were screaming why are we taking it to Niger Republic. It’s important to take it to Niger because of economic reasons. Most coastal territories in Africa are competing better than us in terms of cargoes coming from not the hinterland, the landlocked countries. We decided to join the market and compete so that we can make our seaports very viable. We decided to introduce the Kano-Maradi rail, so that we can convey their goods from Maradi (a boundary village) to our ports with ease. I don’t know why people are screaming about it. It’s about economics, not politics.
“The decision to invest in Kano-Maradin rail line is purely economical, no politics, people are the ones politicising it, I made that decision because there is a competition between the coastal States of Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana.
“The other three countries are able to move cargoes from this landlocked countries to their seaports for either exports or imports, they are able to do those businesses but we are not able to do them because the landlocked countries are complaining of crimes, the road are not safe in Nigeria, there is Custom interference, Police checkpoints here and there.
“Therefore, they find it difficult to do business in Nigerian seaports. So to be able to attract those cargoes, we decided to construct a rail line from Kano-Maradi, just Maradi, is a village in Niger Republic and we will also build warehouses there to be able to attract cargoes from neighbouring countries and transport it effectively to Tin-Can or Apapa seaport for movement onward or outside the country.
“Or make them import through our seaports and we drop it off at Maradi where they can use their cargoes. Nobody has talked about the employment this investment will generate, nobody has talked about the economic benefits that we would raise funds for the country and that the economic interest is by far outweigh the current investment”.
Speaking further, the Minister revealed that about 36 to 40 billion dollars is needed to connect the whole country through the state capital with rail adding that,” we are doing so much with little, so what happened in other countries won’t happen here because we will pay back the loan”.