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Transportation Minister, Amaechi restates FG’s commitment to rail project

Transportation Minister, Mr Rotimi Amaechi

Minister, Mr Rotimi Ameachi on Monday restated the Federal Government’s
commitment to the revitalisation of the railways as a crucial component of the nation’s
transportation system for economy support.

 The minister
stated this in Lagos at a town hall meeting
 organised by the Ministry of Information,
Culture and Tourism.
“The first
railway contract in the revitalisation policy was awarded by former president
Olusegun Obasanjo that is railway from Lagos to Kano; the next one was awarded
by former President Goodluck Jonathan, Lagos to Calabar.
“In all these
there agreement with Chinese government that there will be counterpart funding
of 15 per cent; we did not fulfil these agreements.
“The only
place they tried a bit was the Abuja, Kaduna and Kano, which is yet to be
completed; and we are working extremely hard to ensure that between June and
July we would commercialise that rail line.
“That will
reduce the challenges of production; to convey goods and services between
Kaduna and Abuja.
“And I assure
that, by God’s grace, before the end of the year we would commence work on the
Lagos – Kano rail line.”
He added that
his ministry would ensure the country’s rail lines were connected to the seaports
in order to reduce the burden on roads and clogging of Lagos ports.
“When we took
over, we discovered that there is nowhere that railway doesn’t end up at the
seaport; but this one did not end up at the seaport.
“So what we
did is to connect it to Calabar, Port Harcourt and Onne, and Warri Sea ports
and then to either tin can or Apapa.
“It means if
you are in Onitsha you want to import through Warri that’s your business.
“If you are
in Port Harcourt you don’t need to come to Lagos anymore, the same also goes to
those who are in Calabar; that is what we’ve done.”
He said that
the Federal Government had commenced negotiation for the completion of the
Itakpe-Warri rail line which had been abandoned for more than 32 years.
“Nigeria has
been struggling to construct that rail line in 32 years.
“We are
negotiating with a Chinese company that is ready to take up that rail line
together with the Ajaokuta steel plant.
“We would
carry it all from Itakpe down to Abuja and then down to the sea port in Warri;
that entire solid mineral axis will be covered but we have also introduced
passenger trains as well.
“We have not
concluded negotiation with them, but when we do, we will handover to them.”
The minister
further disclosed that the Federal Government had entered into agreement with
the company, General Electric (GE) to revive the old Lagos to Kano rail line.
He said the
company in exchange for the project would build a University of Transportation
in the country.
“We have
agreed with GE as follows. I give you Lagos-Kano, and you (GE) give me the
following, because you can’t dump a technology on us and go, you must give us a
University of Transportation,” he said.
Amaechi said
the university would train railway graduates, marine engineering graduates and
He said the
GE would build a factory that would produce the locomotives, wagon and the
coaches in Nigeria.
“Finally, we
said to the company you will not take Lagos-Kano if you will not do Port
Harcourt – Maiduguri; that again I think they have agreed, we have not
concluded negotiation.
“If all this
is done in the next four years, we would have been able to connect the whole of
Nigeria and reduce the impact that we put to convey good and services on the
road,” he said.
He  was hopeful that the President Muhammadu
Buhari- led administration would connect the entire country by rail by the end
of his four-year term.
He therefore
appealed to property owners, who would be affected by demotion exercises to
pave way for the construction, saying, “Please bear with us because without
demolition there would be no rail line”.
On aviation,
the minister reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to rejuvenate the
aviation sector.
He said, “I
hear you loud and clear about the situation in aviation sector; not because of
the comfort but because I want to be as proud as the Chinese or Ghanaians when
you go to their airports.
“Just take a
step few metres from the current Port Harcourt airport you will see a brand new
airport terminal under construction and by December they should finish that
“The same is
happening in Kano, which we hope will be complete between December 2016 and
January 2017.”
On maritime,
Amaechi expressed worry that Nigeria’s maritime sector was not at par with its
counterpart in other climes.
Serving as an
interactive platform for members of the public, representatives of organised
labour, and farmers, physically challenged persons, traditional rulers, state
executives, political parties, youths organisations, students, as well as
executive secretaries of local governments were at the town hall meeting.

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