SWITZERLAND, FEBRUARY 10 – President Muhammadu Buhari has defended the decision of the Nigerian government to construct a railway line from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic, Nigeria’s Northern neighbour.
The single-track standard-gauge line will have 12 stations and will provide a coastal connection between landlocked Niger and the southern Nigerian ports of Lagos and Lekki. The line will also include a 93km branch from Kano to Dutse, the capital of Jigawa state. The line will run through the Nigerian states of Kano, Jigawa, and Katsina, and the Maradi region in Niger. Construction is due to take two years and eight months.
Funding for the railway, which is being structured and negotiated by KFW-IPEX Bank, Africa Finance Corporation and Credit Suisse, was approved by Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council in September.
The project has been the subject of controversy among many Nigerians who believe it was a waste of fund as Nigeria stands to benefit little from the project, compared to the amount of funds to be spent.
However, during the flag off of the project on Monday, the president said Nigeria would earn revenue from the project.
“This vital infrastructure line will establish an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport services between Northern and Southern regions of the country, reaching Nigerian southern ports of Lagos and Warri,” the president said.
According to Buhari, the project, when completed, would serve 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 affordable cost in their import and export business.”
Below is the president’s full speech:
“I am delighted to preside over the ground-breaking ceremony for commencement of the construction of yet another vital transportation infrastructure.
“The rail line that traverses the major commercial and administrative centre of Kano and passing through other economic hubs of the country including Kazaure, Daura, Katsina and up to the border town of Jibiya and the Niger Republic city of Maradi.
“The cities of Jibiya and Maradi constitute a significant trading core between Nigeria and Niger Republic – a tradition dating back many centuries.
“This vital infrastructure line will establish an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport services between Northern and Southern regions of the country, reaching Nigerian southern ports of Lagos and Warri.
“The entire route encompasses territory inhabited by close to 80 million people across 10 states of the country. This project has a branch line to Dutse the capital of Jigawa state to open up this corridor which is endowed with vast resources.
“The Kano – Maradi rail line has been identified as a viable line that will significantly enhance the movement of passengers and freight to the hinterland especially raw materials from both agricultural and mineral resources for our industries.
“The project, when completed, would serve 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 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.
“The construction company handling this project, Messrs Mota-Engil Nigeria Limited is supporting knowledge and technology transfer by investing in the establishment of a learning Institution for Transportation and Railway Science. This is commendable.
“Distinguished guests, this administration, in clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by absence of strong and effective infrastructure, has remained consistent in her effort at closing this gap. We have in the rail sector embarked on the completion of the 1,424 Kilometer Lagos – Kano rail line to join the one being flagged-off today for the country’s Western axis.
“On 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 sea port in Bonny Island and a Railway Industrial Park in Port Harcourt with the objectives of achieving a vibrant and functional railway infrastructure in the Eastern part of the country.
“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, Yenegoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.
“Furthermore, 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 appreciable level of completion during the tenure of this administration.
“Distinguished guests, I believe, when all these initiatives of our Administration are realized, the country would have overcome the infrastructural deficiency in the Transportation sector.
“Businesses will be able to take full advantage of availability of an affordable and effective transportation backbone that can transform industrial and economic activity to a higher level. I also enjoin our private sectors to invest and participate in the realization of these very promising economic opportunities.
“I now have the honour to perform the ground-breaking ceremony for the Kano – Maradi standard gauge rail line and direct the Honourable Minister of Transportation to flag-off the project.
“Thank you and God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”