The minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the Kano-Maradi rail line will afford the country the opportunity to compete in the area of transporting cargoes, goods and services to and from landlocked neighbouring countries like Niger via the seaports in Lagos.
Amaechi who spoke during a marathon of interviews on some TV stations commemorating Nigeria’s 60th Independence anniversary and monitored by our correspondent stressed that the rail line is all about building a robust economy, not politics.
Amaechi during the interview listed the benefits of the Kano-Maradi rail line and the economic importance of the Lekki, Bonny and Warri seaports approved by President Muhammadu Buhari. He also highlighted the role the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line would play in boosting the country’s economy.
He said: “Last week, we awarded the contract for Kano to Maradi and people were screaming why are we taking it to Niger Republic?
“It is important to take it to Niger because of economic reasons. Most coastal territories in Africa are competing better than us in terms of cargoes coming from not the hinterland, the landlocked countries.
“We decided to join the market and compete so that we can make our seaports very viable. We decided to introduce the Kano-Maradi rail so that we can convey their goods from Maradi (a boundary village) to our ports with ease. I don’t know why people are screaming about it. It’s about economics, not politics.”
He said he believes that before the end of the year, two railway projects should commence which are Kano to Maradi and Ibadan to Kano, adding that for Ibadan to Kano, his Ministry is waiting for approval of the loan in China.
Speaking further he said once the loan is approved in China, work will commence.
“For Kano-Maradi, the loan is almost ready,” adding that the Chinese government is coming next week for negotiation.
“Once we conclude the negotiation and agree, we will sign and pursue the construction.
“The contractor is a Portuguese company (Mota-Engil). They have come with a European bank and a German bank to fund the Kano-Maradi rail,” Amaechi said.
Amaechi said the Nigerian government is building the rail to Maradi at the border to attract cargoes.
“They are comfortable going to Togo, Benin Republic and Ghana or all those countries around there. So what we want to do is to attract them to a cheap and secure form of transportation, so you can’t, therefore, ask them to make a contribution.
“We are going to do the $1.98b at our own cost and at Maradi we stop, so that we can attract their cargoes and then get our seaports to be more competitive as compared to Lome, Benin and Ghana,” he added.
In their responses, the Brigade Commander, 32 Artillery Brigade Nigerian Army, Brigadier General Zakari Abubakar; director, Department of State Services, Mr Emmanuel Esomonu; and state commissioner of Police, Mr Salami Amidu Bolaji, all assured that measures had been put in place for the protection of all Corps members during the election.