Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has approved negotiations to secure US $15bn loan for the completion of work on the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail project.
According to Rotimi Ameachi, the Minister of Transportation, the president has also given the approval for negotiations of funds for the execution of Lagos-Calabar rail project to ensure its speedy completion.
“Do not forget that the Lagos-Calabar rail project is yet to start because of funds; the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail project is yet to start because of funds, but the President has approved that we negotiate for funds,” said Minister Ameachi.
“We are almost concluding negotiations for the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail project. We are looking at the cost of between US $14- US $15bn,” he added.
Revamping rail transportation network
Meanwhile, a lot of progress is being made in the area of revamping rail transportation network across the country. Laying of tracks on the Lagos-Ibadan route is expected to commence next month. The project is expected to provide a lot of job opportunities to Nigerians.
“If the rain does not start early, we will start laying tracks on the Lagos-Ibadan route in April and hopefully we can complete it in December or January and open it up for passengers and business. We expect about 6, 000,000 tons of cargo out of the 30,000,000 tons of cargo that we have between Lagos and Kano,” affirmed Minister Ameachi.
On Itakpe-Warri rail project, Mr. Ameachi said that the project has been under reconstruction, and expressed hope that it could be inaugurated by August this year.
“The tracks were already there but they were vandalized so we are rebuilding those tracks and then building new stations. We are also reconstructing a yard that was abandoned,” said Ameachi. All things being equal, the place should be ready soon, we gave them May as the completion date but let’s say by August we should be commissioning,” he added.
The minister further reassured that adequate security had been taken to guarantee safety of passengers aboard rail transportation in the country. “There are policemen in all the coaches that ply our routes. So if the passengers are attacked by armed robbers, they will report while they take action,” he said.