President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the $1.2bn Kaduna-Kano standard gauge rail line,when completed will establish the ports in Lagos, as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic.
He said this while performing the groundbreaking ceremony of the project in Zawacikin, a suburb of the ancient city of Kano ,adding that the linkage of the railline to the ports would positively drive the Nigerian economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation
He said the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance are working to engage co-financiers to conclude financial agreements to partner with the federal government for the development of the Ibadan – Kano line and to further increase the bankability of the project.
According to him, the railway line will be linked to the second Port in Lagos, the Tin Can Island Port. It is also expected that the Inland Dry Port on these routes will be activated and the ports can now receive imports directly from the international market as ports of destination such as the Ibadan, Kaduna and Kano Inland Dry Ports.
He noted that the take-off of construction activities on the corridor represents the commitment of his administration in the revival of Nigerian railway system, to reduce the deficiency in the nation’s transportation infrastructure and “drive effective and more efficient transportation of passengers and freight within the country.”
According to him, “the ground breaking ceremony for Kano – Kaduna segment of the Lagos – Kano railway modernization project signifies an important milestone of the construction of the third segment, having completed and commenced commercial operation on the first segment Abuja – Kaduna and recently the second segment Lagos – Ibadan.
“This project is crucial to the establishment of a supply chain in railway transport within its corridor, Kano – Kaduna – Abuja, as it links the major commercial cities of Kano and Kaduna to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.”
He noted that upon completion, the Kaduna – Kano railway project is to link the Lagos – Ibadan railway project via Abuja, Minna, Ilorin, Oshogbo, Ibadan to Lagos on one end, and Maradi, Niger Republic on the other.
On his part, Amaechi thanked the President for physically coming to Kano to perform the flag-off of the 203km rail line, which is expected to transverse Kaduna, Zaria and Kano cities, with three major stations for passengers and freight services.
“This project will link Abuja with the commercial city of Kano and also link the ongoing Kano – Maradi project. The outstanding addendum, Ibadan – Abuja, will link the Sea Ports in Lagos to Maradi, Niger Republic.
“This I believe will greatly boost trade between the two countries and foster economic development. This railway line, will present an opportunity for Nigerians to traverse between Abuja and Kano via Kaduna with relative ease.
“The project will no doubt improve the standard of living of citizens within its corridor, create employment and promote trade. In the long term the railway will help decongest the Lagos Port Complex and increase its efficiency as well as further increase the viability of the Inland Dry Ports located in Ibadan, Kaduna and Kano.
The $1.2 billion project will be funded from the Federal Ministry of Transportation’s 2021 budgetary allocation, owing to delay in getting the expected loan facility from China.
The the sum of $218 million has been paid to the contractors handling the project, with another $100 million ready for disbursement thus bringing the total to $318 million.