President Muhammadu Buhari has unveiled massive infrastructure development plans to drive the economy and jobs creation.
Speaking in his new year broadcast to the nation, the President outlined plans for a renewed commitment to increase Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure in order to achieve global economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
The projects lined up will include the development of new rail lines and expansion of existing ones which he described as “ambitious targets”
Already government has embarked on construction of standard Guage rail lines from Lagos-Kaduna which is expected to reach Ibadan from Lagos by the end of 2019 with a projected passenger carrying capacity of two million passengers per year and five million tons of cargo will be transported every year.
Buhari said the Kano – Kaduna segment is expected to commence in 2028 and reach Kaduna by the end of 2019.
“In 2021, the two ends will be joined so that we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route.”
The Abuja – Kaduna route will be boosted by additional rolling stock next Thursday and will be able to handle one million commuters annually.
The President also announced that approved had been given and negotiations will be concluded in the first part of 2018 for the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line covering Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Makurdi, Lafia, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and Damaturu.
The Abuja to Itakpe line is expected to go through Baro and terminate in Warri with construction of a new seaport at Warri.
Negotiations are also advanced for the construction of other railway lines, firstly from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic passing through Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia to Maradi.
This is just as the Lagos to Calabar the “Coastal Rail” through Ore, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Sapele, Ughelli, Warri, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo and Calabar, are expected to be linked with standard guage rail net work next few years to boast social and economic activities.
“With respect to the Abuja Capital Light Rail, progress has reached 98% completion, as at 64% completion when we assumed office. Only test runs remain before start of operations”
He also announced that the train service will stimulate economic activities in the Federal Capital and provide residents with an efficient and safe transportation system.
“Twelve railway sub-stations around the capital over a 45.2 kilometre route will serve as a catalyst and a pull factor to the economy of the area. The Light Rail System will reduce traffic congestion and carbon emission in line with the Administration’s policy on climate change.”
Speaking on roads, the President announced the revival and reconstitution of the Management of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA), which has been charged with a 12 week rapid intervention in road repairs to cover all the geo-political zones.
The President said government was undertaking repairs and maintenance of 44 roads within the six geo-political zones.
“Twenty five major highways will be funded under the N100b SUKUK facility. Each geo-political zone will benefit by an equal amount of N16.67b. The following major highways are to receive special attention”
The include the Oyo – Ogbomosho, Ofusu – Ore – Ajebandele – Shagamu,Yenagoa Road Junction – Kolo Otuoke – Bayelsa Palm, Enugu – Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Way,
Others include the Onitsha – Enugu Expressway, Kaduna Eastern Bypass, Dualization of Kano – Maiduguri Road, Dualization of Abuja – Lokoja – Benin Road and the dualization of Suleja – Minna Road.
“In addition, Government has approved work to start on the re-construction of Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano road which is in a state of disrepair. Work will soon start and is expected to be completed in 2019.”
The President who noted that power supply remains a concern to the government, noted that too many people still do not have regular and reliable supply.
The President said the Payment Assurance Guarantee Scheme which started in January 2016 has enabled the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader to raise so far N701 billion to assure Generation Companies of at least 80% payment for any power delivered to the national grid.
He noted that generation has now reached 7,000MW. On December 8, 2017 the country achieved 5,155MW of power delivered to consumers, the highest level ever recorded, adding that several moribund projects are also being revived
“The Afam Power Station added 110MW in 2017 and another 240MW will be added this year through a private investment partnership.Katsina Power Project is now being tested and producing 10MW of power from wind for the first time in Nigeria. It should be fully operational this year.”
“The Zungeru 700MW Hydroelectric Power Project, stalled by court cases is due for completion in 2019. The transmission and other requirements to operate the 30MW Gurara Phase 1 Hydroelectric Plant, the 40MW Kashimbilla Hydroelectric Plant and the 215 MW Kaduna Gas/LPG/Diesel Power Plant will also be completed this year”
“A landmark project, Mambilla Hydroelectric Power Project is at last taking off. This project has been on the drawing Board for 40 years, but now the engineering, procurement and construction contract for the 3,050MW project has been agreed with a Chinese joint venture Company with a financing commitment from the government of China. Completion is targeted for 2023.”
“As I mentioned earlier, the Transmission Company of Nigeria can now distribute all the 7,000MW that can be generated. TCN and the Niger Delta Holding Company have added 1,950MVA of 330 down to 132KV transformer capacity of 10 transmission stations and 2,930MVA of 132 down to 33KV transformer capacity of 42 sub-stations including Ikot Ekpene, Aba, Alagbon, Ajah, Ejigbo, Funtua and Zaria”
The administration has also been working with the privatized distribution Companies to overcome the continuing challenges of distribution, with the hope that the massive public works should spearhead the recovery and lead millions back to employment.
Following recovery from recession, government said it is slowly stabilizing the economy with a more sustainable policies adopted to halt further drifts, as captured in the Economic Recovery Plan.
“Diversification efforts have resulted in improved output particularly in agriculture and solid minerals sectors. The relative exchange rate stability has improved manufacturing sector performance.”
“We have got to get used to discipline and direction in economic management. The days of business as usual are numbered”
The agricultural policies have led to improved yield as the sector gradually picked up, contributing to the government’s effort to re-structure the economy, with rice production making the most promising results that led to reduction importation of rice
The President reiterated his earlier position that rice importation will be stoped in 2018.
“By the same token, I am today appealing to enterprising Nigerians with ideas and unemployed graduates and other able-bodied and literate men and women with ideas not to just sit and wait for employment from the government or the Organized Private Sector. Great nations are built by enterprising people who turn their hands to anything that circumstances dictate”
Tony Ailemen, Abuja