President Muhammadu Buhari has flagged off the construction of $1.9 billion Kano-Maradi (Niger Republic) rail project with an appeal to private individuals and corporate organisations to invest in the development of rail systems across the country.
Buhari further disclosed that the administration has stepped up efforts towards the completion of all ongoing rail projects to ease movements particularly goods within the country and reduce dependence on road networks.
Performing groundbreaking for the standard gauge rail line project held virtually and physically in Katsina on Tuesday, the president assured Nigerians that the project with 25 kilometers into Niger Republic, would be completed in 2023 before the expiration of the administration, saying, the route constitutes a significant trading core between Nigeria and Niger Republic – a tradition dating back many centuries.
At the flagged off attended by Katsina State Governor, Aminu Masari, his Kano counterpart, Abdullahi Ganduje, he noted that the project encompasses territory inhabited by close to 80 million people across 10 states of the country and would open Dutse corridor which is endowed with vast resources.
According to him, the Kano – Maradi rail line is a viable line that will significantly enhance movement of passengers and freight to the hinterland, especially raw materials from both agricultural and mineral resources for our industries.
Buhari argued that the project, when completed, would further aid the import and export of goods for Niger Republic and other countries in the sub-region through Nigerian ports.
“The country would earn revenue through expansion of trade and commerce, while the people of Niger Republic will benefit from ease of transportation logistics at an affordable cost in their import and export business.
“The connection to Niger Republic through rail will also foster Trans-Sahara trade and contribute to the expected gains in the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement”, he added.
He, meanwhile, disclosed that the Eastern corridor of the country, the Port Harcourt – Enugu – Makurdi – Maiduguri rail line with branches to Owerri, Imo state, and Damaturu, Yobe state, have been awarded for reconstruction to include a deep seaport in Bonny Island and a Railway Industrial Park in Port Harcourt.
The president explained that the objectives behind the move were basically to achieve a vibrant and functional railway infrastructure in the Eastern part of the country.
“Also, the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance have been directed to vigorously act on engagement and concluding financial arrangement with appropriate co-financiers to partner with the Federal Government for the development of the West-East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar and linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenegao, Port Harcourt, Aba, and Uyo.
“Aside from this, the contract for the important Central Railway traversing Itakpe – Baro – Abuja with connection to Lokoja and a new seaport in Warri has been signed and is expected to achieve an appreciable level of completion during the tenure of this administration”.