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Buhari justifies investment on railway projects across Nigeria

By Idowu Abdullahi

President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that humongous amount been expended on rail projects by his administration was aimed at boosting the country’s economy, create jobs for teeming unemployed youths and also eliminate incidents of kidnapping, robbery and other forms of threats to Nigerians.

He explained that with massive jobs for unemployed youths, the recruitment channel for terrorists would be blocked and that such would boost local economy with the country’s active population gainfully employed and contributing meaningful to Nigeria.

The president added that he was also investing on railway projects as part of measures to position the country as destination and partner of choice for other neighbouring countries who are landlock and could use Nigerian rail route for importation and exportation of goods thereby making additional income for Nigeria.

Buhari who disclosed this on Thursday while inaugurating commercial operations of Lagos-Ibadan railway project at the Mobolaji Johnson Railway Station, Ebute Metta, Lagos, also listed wealth creations as part of reasons his government was investing massively in the sector.

He added that the newly inaugurated project marked another milestone in his administration’s drive to revitalize the railway system and establish it as a choice mode of transportation for both passengers and freight.

The president further pledged that his administration would continue to prioritise the railway system as a transportation backbone that can transform industrial and economic activity in the country.

On the benefits of the Lagos-Ibadan corridor as well as other on-going railway projects across the country, Buhari said: ‘‘This vital line establishes an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos – Ibadan, as goods to the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa port Quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country.

‘‘In clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by absence of strong and effective infrastructure, we have in the rail sector, further to other ongoing railway infrastructure projects, embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos – Kano railway, which is Ibadan – Kano.

‘‘The Lagos – Kano railway project when completed will link the Kano – Maradi line at Kano and a rail link from the Nigeria southern ports of Lagos to Maradi in Niger Republic will be achieved. The connection through rail would position Nigerian ports as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic. This would be beneficial to the economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation.’’

He noted that Ibadan-Kano project would have a connection to the Tin Can Island port as well as the West – East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.

‘‘From the beginning of this administration, railway infrastructure development has been given the priority it deserves and various milestones have been reached, right from when the Abuja – Kaduna railway was flagged-off for commercial operation in 2016 to this Lagos – Ibadan railway project being commissioned today for full commercial operation,’’ he said.

Shortly after he inaugurated the project, Buhari took a ride from Ebute Metta Station to Energy Nature Light (ENL), Terminal, Apapa Port, Lagos.

He was joined by the Speaker House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, Governors of Ekiti, Oyo, Ogun and the Deputy Governor of Ondo, the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of State Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, other Ministers as well as some government officials.

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