Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has explained reasons over the approval of a rail line linking Daura, Katisna State, and the home town of President Muhammadu Buhari.
On his recent visit to the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) for a stakeholders meeting involving the project handlers; Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC) and representatives involved on the on-going Lagos-Ibadan rail corridor project, the Transportation Minister stated that the Federal Government had to award a rail line that will pass through Daura due to lack of a rail line linking Nigeria with her land-locked neighbours like Niger.
Rotimi Amaechi stated further that in order to stimulate more businesses and trading activities, the government approved a rail line to Daura because of the competition for landlocked countries from Ghana and Togo.
He told newsmen after the monthly meeting with the contractor handling the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, that Nigeria realised that it had competitors for other land-locked neighbours competitors like Ghana, Togo and even Benin Republic.
The minister noted that Nigeria’s landlocked neighbours are importing through these countries because of the absence of rail lines passing through them. So to address this situation, President approved a rail line that will go to Maragi in Niger.
He stressed that that the rail line which will come from Kano to Maragi in Niger must pass through some cities. So the rail line passes through Kazaure and then Daura before proceeding to Jibya all the way to Maragi’’.
Reacting on the reactions trailing the President’s action, Amaechi queried, ‘’Is it that when the rail line gets to Kazaure, it jumps into the air over Daura? No, it has to pass through Daura to get to Jibya and Maragi. It’s quite unfortunate that people read meanings to a rail line going to Daura’’. The minister stated.
“With this rail line, it addresses the competition we have with Ghana and Togo for our landlocked neighbours. So we can now tell our landlocked neighbours that we can take their goods and services from our ports in Lagos to their country.
But one thing good for me as a man that has the mandate to connect all state capital by rail is that, from Daura, we will also link Katsina State, thereby leaving us with just three more State capitals to connect; Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi.”
Reacting to his impression on the progress of work carried out so far the CCECC; the Minister disclosed that he is quite satisfied with the extent of work done so far. He further disclosed that the Federal has completed its counterpart funding obligation of N72 billion to the Chinese contractors.
In his words, ‘’the site clearing, taking away of the debris and marking of the land is on and putting the sharp sand. Hopefully, by end of 2017, they will start laying the tracks’’.
He expressed the believe that if the CCECC maintains the current speed with which they are going, by December 2018, they will deliver the project.
On monthly basis, all the principal players on the rail project including commissioners of transportation and works from Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states as well their Secretaries to State Governments meet to review the performance of the CCECC contractors handling the project to ensure that it meets the time frame and delivery target of the project by December 2018.