The Federal Government finally confirmed on Friday that work would soon begin on certain rail projects for which contracts have been awarded including the Ibadan – Kano, Port Harcourt – Maiduguri, Lagos – Calabar and Kano –Maradi lines.
The information was disclosed by the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi while speaking at the annual ministerial briefing held in Abuja alongside the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed and the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki among others.
Amaechi said the government has finally solved the financial problems usually associated with rail projects and added:
“We have awarded the following contracts and we are about to start and we have even tried to solve the financial problems. This is because we have the problem of having to hire consulting engineers.
“The ones we are about to start are Ibadan to Kano, that we are waiting for funds from China.
“We are about to start Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, we are waiting for the cabinet to approve consulting shares. We are also to start the Kano-Maradi and Lagos to Calabar but one thing that is unique about these contracts is that the President early enough directed that all rail lines must stagnate at the sea ports.
“That is why there may be a bit of adjustment in the pricing of Kano-Maradi because we have to adjust it to link up to Kano-Lagos so that it can terminate at Lagos seaport.”
He also said that the 185.5km Lagos-Ibadan double standard gauge line extending to Apapa seaport would soon be completed while the 302km Warri-Itakpe and the 186kn Abuja –Kaduna standard gauge rail lines were already functional.
The Minister praised the online ticketing system on the Abuja – Kaduna rail line, crediting it with the N50 million raise in earnings reported by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and in the same vein, frowned at the ticket racketeering schemes certain NRC employees engaged in, warning them against such acts and directing the NRC to make sure any offenders were dealt with severely.
He also addressed the loan the Federal Government had taken to undertake these ventures, stating that the FG had “paid a total sum of N420.46m into the escrow account from revenue received from Abuja-Kaduna train services over the period of the ERGP (Economic Recovery and Growth Plan 2017-2020).”