President Buhari assures Nigerians of rail development – Vanguard
By Favour Nnabugwu
President Muhamadu Buhari, Thursday, assured Nigerians of his administration’s resolve to pursue railway development in the country.
Buhari who Commissioned 10 new coaches and two locomotives for the Abuja-Kaduna rail services, recalled that he commissioned the Abuja-Kaduna railway service in July 2016, the country’s first ever standard gauge train service.
“Am glad that this service has become very usefull for commuters and would soon become the preferred means of transport for the journey from Abuja to Kaduna”.
The president reiterated his administration’s resolve to vigorously pursue railway development in Nigeria through the implementation of the 25year strategic railway masterplan.
He stated that government would further focus on costal rail like Lagos-Calabar with branches to Benin, Agbor and Onitsha including Port Harcourt to Maiduguri standard gauge rail line with branches to Owerri, Akwa, Abakaliki, Yola and Damaturu.
He added that government would also focus on Kano-Kazure, Daura, Kastina, Jibya tolink to Maradi in Niger Republic as part of regional railway inter-connectivity of the ECOWAS sub-region.
The President mentioned that other supporting project that has been approved is the procurement of more locomotives, coaches, wagons, workshops and equipment that would be used for standard guage lines.
He maintained that negotiations are on for the concessioning of the narrow gauge rails with a consortium General Electric to encourage private sector participate in the railway development,
Buhari said “We are looking forward to a more efficient railway service on the narrow gauge line to be driven by the private sector adding government is creating a condusive environment participation by strengthening the legal and regulatory framework
He reiterated government commitment to linking all major commercial and production centers by rail for rapid social economic development and improving the quality of life of the citizens and improving the national integration.
He said its not just a statement of my intent, but benchmark for measuring the performance of the administration, soliciting the support of the national assembly, development partners and relevant stakeholders to achieve their aim
Welcoming the President to Kaduna, the Minister of Transportaion, Mr Chibuike Amaechi said government would do all within its powers to complete the Lagos-Ibadan railway.
“We are already negotiating with contractors that will fund the project. If we are able to complete the arrangements again taking into consideration the Nigeria law, we will start many of them this year. That include many of them.”
“We need between $36 billion to $40 billion. Only God knows where we are going to get it. But I applied what I did as Rivers State governor. When there is a project, we put on the table how much we have, we will just award the contract believing that God will do it for us. You will say that it is naive but at the end of the day we got the money to pay the constructors.
Feeling about the commissioning.”
According to him, “I feel very elated and I thank the president for his supports and I hope I don’t disappoint him and Nigerians. It gives me a new lease of life because after all we did in Ricers, one young man woke up and said we did not do anything.”
“This gives me another opportunity to prove that we have worked for the people and that you are compelled by the circumstances of the fact that Nigerians and the president thought that we could deliver in the mandate given to the president which was transferred to me as the minister.”
Asking if he was not under pressure, Amaechi, “I wish you know me very well. When I get to my bed and start reading before you know it I am asleep. The next time I will wake should be around 3am. I don’t think that I am under any pressure. Once he provides the money, you will know that I have the capacity.”