*orders conclusive funding for East-West line
By Chesa Chesa
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday performed the groundbreaking ceremony for the Kano-Katsina-Jibiya-Maradi Rail Line that terminates in neighbouring Nigeria Republic.
Speaking in Abuja from where he virtually presided over the ceremony, Buhari noted that the cities of Jibiya in Nigeria and Maradi in Niger Republic constitute a significant trading core between the two countries – a tradition dating back many centuries.
He said the Kano–Maradi rail line had been identified as a viable line that will significantly enhance the movement of passengers and freight to the hinterland especially raw materials from both agricultural and mineral resources for the nation’s industries.
“The rail line traverses the major commercial and administrative centre of Kano and passing through other economic hubs of the country including Kazaure, Daura, Katsina and up to the border town of Jibiya and the Niger Republic city of Maradi, “ the President stated.
He said Kano-Maradi project, when completed, would serve import and export of goods for Niger Republic and other countries in the sub-region through Nigerian ports.
“The country would earn revenue through expansion of trade and commerce, while the people of Niger Republic will benefit from ease of transportation logistics at affordable cost in their import and export business.
“The connection to Niger Republic through rail will also foster Trans-Sahara trade and contribute to the expected gains in the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement”, he said.
Buhari said that work has commenced towards the completion of the 1,424 Kilometer Lagos – Kano rail line to join the one he flagged-off for the country’s Western axis.
The President therefore, directed the Ministries of Transportation and Finance to conclude financial arrangements with appropriate co-financiers that will partner with the Federal Government for construction of West-East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar, linking some major cities in South East and South-South.
He pointed out that the West-East Coastal rail line will connect Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenegoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.
“Furthermore, the contract for the important Central Railway traversing Itakpe – Baro – Abuja with connection to Lokoja and a new seaport in Warri has been signed and is expected to achieve appreciable level of completion during the tenure of this administration.
“This vital infrastructure line will establish an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport services between Northern and Southern regions of the country, reaching Nigerian southern ports of Lagos and Warri.
“The entire route encompasses territory inhabited by close to 80 million people across 10 states of the country. This project has a branch line to Dutse the capital of Jigawa State to open up this corridor which is endowed with vast resources”, the President said.
He added that “on the Eastern corridor of the country, the Port Harcourt – Enugu – Makurdi – Maiduguri rail line with branches to Owerri, Imo State and Damaturu, Yobe State, have been awarded for reconstruction to include a deep sea port in Bonny Island and a Railway Industrial Park in Port Harcourt with the objectives of achieving a vibrant and functional railway.”