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Buhari govt to award Kano-Niger Republic rail project next week: Minister

Rotimi Amaechi also says a rail project that would serve the country’s eastern flank would be awarded by month’s end.

• September 20, 2020
A picture of train (Photo Credit: @toluogunlesi)

Nigeria is set to award the contract for a major rail line between Kano and Maradi, Niger Republic, an official said.

Upon completion, the 386 kilometre stretch, which would be awarded on September 23, is expected to boost economic activities between Nigeria’s northwest and the neighbouring Niger.

Nigeria’s transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi, announced the government’s readiness to approve the contract, a major policy initiative of the administration. He did not immediately clarify whether or not the project’s contractor has been finalised.

“Many Nigerians have asked why the construction of railways. Eighty per cent of the cargoes we have in Nigeria are mostly imported, because the Nigerian economy is yet to generate enough production,” Mr. Amaechi said while appearing at the virtual session of 15th Annual Kaleidoscope Global Business Conference on Sunday.

“However, the president is of the view that if we must produce, we must have infrastructure that enables that production, hence the focus on transportation, power and works.”

The 1,500-kilometre eastern rail line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri would be awarded on September 30, Mr. Amaechi said at the virtual business roundtable organised by the Nigerian consulate in New York on Sunday. Several governors, including Solomon Lalong and Samuel Ortom, took part in the meeting, NAN reported.

An acute deficit of infrastructure has long been identified as a major driver of Nigeria’s underdevelopment. Despite effusive promises, successive administrations have found it difficult to uplift Nigeria’s infrastructure status to a bearable standard.

Meagre resources earmarked for road, rail and other infrastructure purposes are often plundered by public officials, and often without any condign consequences.

Mr. Amaechi said the Buhari administration has a keen focus to surpass its predecessors on key infrastructure projects.

“We started with the Apapa seaport. We are working there now and I believe by December, we should conclude the Lagos-Ibadan rail line extension into the port,” he said.

The administration said Warri, Calabar and Tin Can Island ports are also scheduled to be linked by rail transport starting in 2021. 

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