The Minister for Transportation Rt.Hon Rotimi Amaechi,has said that the Buhari-led administration is working to connect railway to every part of Nigeria.
Amaechi made the disclosure in a media interaction with online journalists in Abuja, as he enumerated achievements of the Ministry in President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime.
He told the journalists that services in the airports were better than before and mentioned that the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja runway project which was executed before the date of reopening was a star project in the Aviation sector, the Executive Secretary of Shippers’ Council was reappointed because he did well in his first tenure, while the implementation of the Cabotage Act and other reforms that has been entrenched in the Maritime sector was remarkable.
The Minister said that the completion of the railway project started by President Jonathan is paramount to PMB administration because of the dividends and economic benefits it will deliver to citizens, the completion of the Kaduna-Abuja railway project in 2017, the Lagos-Ibadan railway would be completed in 2019 and other rail projects were ongoing, as the Minister also disclosed that the federal government was negotiating with stakeholders to ensure that the rail line passes through all the states in the country.
He noted that the Federal Government is also working to commission two railway projects in 2018 but funding had been a great challenge, adding that the loan which was requested by the FGN for railway was to be use through direct financing and would make the completion of the project faster and create more employment.
The Minister also said that the railway project created about 7000 daily jobs depending on the volume of work in the sections and that the local workforce was 99 per cent with many Nigerian engineers working in most construction sites and the Chinese supervising.
Rt .Hon. Amaechi regretted that lack of funds made the completion dateline of railway lines to be slow. According to him “If there was enough funds, most railway lines would have been under construction at the same rate. If we have funding, the number of years it will take us from Lagos to Ibadan will be the same from Ibadan to Ilorin. We have that cash problem, we want to influence the economy but there are no funds to go with our desires”.
The Minister explained that funding the rail line from Kano to Maradi in Niger republic will boost the Nigerian Economy because Chad and Niger republic will revert to using our seaports and patronise the Nigerian markets instead of going to Benin Republic. “If you are going to be competitive with your neighboring countries, then you must have the same infrastructure as they have. What does the railway do for you, no police no customs. Maradi is a bother town and not really deep into Niger republic” he noted. He added that Nigeria has to provide infrastructures to compete with other countries.
In conclusion, the Minister said that there were challenges and that no human being can claim to be perfect as he acknowledged that some mistakes had been made but that they were gradually addressed alongside problems the administration met on ground.
Amaechi told the audience that despite the numerous challenges being encountered, “there is no doubt that President Buhari is pushing hard for better days ahead and that Nigerians should vote for President Muhammadu Buhari to complete his good works.