By Adelola Amihere
The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi has revealed that the Kano to Maradi rail project is likely to kick off sooner than the anticipated Ibadan to Kano rail project as the loan is being sourced from the European Bank as against China.
This is just as he revealed that it was now difficult to borrow from the Chinese following National Assembly’s probe of loans that would have been used for the Ibadan to Kano rail line.
Amaechi who made the disclosure over the weekend while addressing journalists at the Ibadan Train Station at the end of the routine inspection of the Lagos to Ibadan rail line project also disclosed that the front end engineering has already begun on the Kano-Maradi line.
He said: “We believe that the fastest will be Kano-Maradi because the Chinese have a way of slowing down the loan process. In fact, it is worse after the imbroglio at the National Assembly.
“So from October they have moved to December and now we are hearing first quarter. So that may take time to come. There is a third project, which is the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri and I can’t give a timeline on that.
He continued, “Kano-Maradi is at the stage of loan negotiations. In fact, we are fast tracking them and now they are doing front end engineering even before the loan, we are insisting on that. We believe that the front end engineering should be able to end before January.
“However, we’ve told them that we can’t wait till January, they should start now to acquire right-of-way, pay compensation and start clearing the right-of-way so that they can prepare well when the front end engineering is over.
Speaking on the possible commencement of services along the Lagos – Ibadan line, the Minister assured that train services will begin before the festive season whether or not the stations are completed
“The only two stations that we are not too happy with them will be Papalanto and Abeokuta stations. But they have promised to intensify work on them in the next few weeks,” he added.
He however, could not tell the amount that passengers would have to pay when using the Lagos-Ibadan train service.