Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has met with the financing advisory team for the construction of the Kano-Maradi rail line, seeking a speed-up of the process to ensure construction begins as soon as possible.
Spokeperson of the ministry of Transportation, Eric Orjiekwe in a statement, said the minister, in a meeting held at the Nigerian embassy, Berlin with representatives of KfW-IPEX bank of Germany who are serving as an advisory in partnership with African Finance Corporation for the Kano-Maradi rail project, stated that the ECAs (Export Credit Agencies) are free to come to Nigeria and become part of the process on ground to ensure that everything follows their recommenced practices and avert hiccups in the course of the project.
Reacting to their concerns on resettlement of villages that may be impacted by the construction, the minister assured that Nigeria has laws in place for that and that the Ministry of Transportation ensured that the right of way was distant from the villages except in Kano where it is difficult to totally avoid the town.
According to him, “For us in the Ministry of Transportation, in choosing the right of way, we avoided communities. If we don’t do that, we’ll clear the entire Kano. Like in Lagos, we avoided communities and used the old line, because if we had to choose a different route we would pay billions. In fact, to even work from the old line, we paid N7 billion in compensations, not because the people had the right to the land, but because after 12 years and nothing is done it becomes their land and you just can’t chase them out. We still paid compensation, because the rail line was moribund. To eject them we still had to treat them as though they were the original owners of the land. We didn’t wait for Europe. That’s our law.
“In Kano-Maradi, we also took into consideration the people, we choose the right of way distant from the communities, which makes it even more expensive, because government will have to do access roads from the rail line into the communities. We did that because of environmental issues, but the Europeans want us to assume that there are people living along the route. There are none, apart from Kano.
“I don’t know what the law is in Europe in terms of your ESIA. We’ve taken the first step by giving notice, we have assessed the land. What we have not done is payment, because the payment is tied to the contract. On our part, we are ready. What I want to know is the next step to paying compensation, to know that the project is going on and that we can create employment.”
The managing director/Global head, Aviation Mobility and Transport, KfW-IPEX Bank, Dr Carsten Wiebers expressed belief that the Nigerian government will be able to manage the risk with paying back of the loan.
He advised that the process of putting in place the consulting firms for the project should be sped-up to facilitate financing, while documentation of the process should be properly done.
The director, Mobility and Transport, KfW-IPEX Bank, Sylvia Sedlacek, assured that a consortium of consultants are already working on the ESIA and would come up with the report soon, while a working group has been formed and is in talks with the Nigerian Ministries of Environment, Transportation and Housing on the Environment and social study of the are.