…Says the 203km project will serve as economic highway for Niger Republic
By Dirisu Yakubu
As part of his commitments to revitalize the abandoned railway sector, President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, performed the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kaduna-Kano standard gauge rail line that will connect to Maradi, in Zawacikin, in the out sketch of Kano ancient city.
The President, who arrived the venue via a Nigerian Air Force helicopter marked NAF 540, was received by the Kano State Governor, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje and other top government officials including governor Solomon Lalong of Plateau states, the Emir of Kano Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero and Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Ahmed Nuhu Bamali among others.
While delivering his address, President Buhari said that the project is a manifestation of the commitment of his administration in the revitalizing the abandoned railway system which will ultimately boost investments in the nation’s transportation infrastructure and drive a more efficient transportation of passengers and freight within the country and to the neighboring Niger Republic.
He noted that the when completed, the project will be linked to the Lagos port, which will serve as the favourite route for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic.
According to the President, “the ground breaking ceremony for Kano – Kaduna segment of the Lagos – Kano railway modernization project signifies an important milestone of the construction of the third segment, having completed and commenced commercial operation on the first segment Abuja – Kaduna and recently the second segment Lagos – Ibadan.
“This project is crucial to the establishment of a supply chain in railway transport within its corridor, Kano – Kaduna – Abuja, as it links the major commercial cities of Kano and Kaduna to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
He said that upon completion, the Kaduna – Kano railway project will be linked to the Lagos – Ibadan railway project via Abuja, Minna, Ilorin, Oshogbo, Ibadan to Lagos on one end and Maradi, Niger Republic on the other end.
“This railway connection when completed will establish the ports in Lagos, as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic. This would positively drive our economies through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation.
“The Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance are working to engage co-financiers to conclude financial agreements to partner with the federal government for the development of the Ibadan – Kano line and to further increase the bankability of the project.
“The railway line will be linked to the second Port in Lagos, the Tin Can Island Port. It is also expected that the Inland Dry Port on these routes will be activated and the ports can now receive imports directly from the international market as ports of destination such as the Ibadan, Kaduna and Kano Inland Dry Ports” Buhari stated.
Earlier in his remarks, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi thanked the President for physically attending the ground breaking ceremony of the 203km rail line, which, according to him will transverse Kaduna, Zaria and Kano cities, with three major stations for passengers and freight services.
According to Amaechi, “This project will link Abuja with the commercial city of Kano and also link the ongoing Kano – Maradi project. The outstanding addendum, Ibadan – Abuja, will link the Sea Ports in Lagos to Maradi, Niger Republic.
“This I believe will greatly boost trade between the two countries and foster economic development. This railway line, will present an opportunity for Nigerians to traverse between Abuja and Kano via Kaduna with relative ease.
“The project will no doubt improve the standard of living of citizens within its corridor, create employment and promote trade. In the long term the railway will help decongest the Lagos Port Complex and increase its efficiency as well as further increase the viability of the Inland Dry Ports located in Ibadan, Kaduna and Kano.
“The rail line is also provided with accessories and special installations including power and water supply schemes, signalling system and communication in GSM-R, freight yards, rolling stock depots and maintenance workshops”.
The Minister further stated that the Ministry is set to begin the construction of the remaining part of Ibadan – Abuja corridor to complete the entire stretch of the Lagos – Kano railway modernization project, “the first of the modernization project in the 25-Year Strategic Vision Plan of the federal government to revitalize our hitherto moribund railway transport subsector.”
You may wish to note that the $1.2 billion project will be funded from the Federal Ministry of Transportation’s 2021 budget, due to the delay in sourcing the funding facility from China.
Amaechi had recently told State House correspondents that the sum of $218 million had been paid to the contractors while another $100 million is ready for disbursement and will bring the total to sum to $318 million.