Nigeria’s Minister for Transportation Rotimi Amaechi has defended the proposed Kano-Maradi rail line, despite outcry over the viability of the project.
Amaechi, who spoke on ARISE NEWS Thursday on the occasion of Nigeria’s 60th Independence anniversary, said the contract awarded for the Kano to Maradi rail line, about $1.98 billion was purely for economic and developmental reasons and never political.
Maradi is the second largest city in Niger Republic and shares a boundary with Nigeria, but the minister stated it was important the project extends to Niger Republic.
“We last week awarded the contract for Kano to Maradi and people were complaining. It’s important we take it to Niger Republic because of economic reasons. Most coastal countries in Africa are competing better than us in terms of cargoes coming from the land locked countries around us.
“We decided to join the market and compete so that we can make the Lagos seaport very viable. Since they cannot use our roads due to crime as well as customs and police checkpoints, we decided to introduce the Kano-Maradi rail line. So it is about economics and development and not politics,” Amaechi said.
The Minister also praised President Buhari for his courage to borrow funds to finance infrastructure.
Amaechi was confident that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will achieve 3000km of rail across the country, challenging previous administrations to show what they have done in that regard
He said the government is awaiting the approval of the loan in China to commence the Ibadan-Kano rail line.
According to the Minister, the Kano-Maradi as well as the Ibadan-Kano rail project will commence before the end of the year, while talks are ongoing with the Minister of Finance on the funding of the Lagos to Calabar rail line.
“I praise the President for the courage of borrowing and I ask the question, if we had all the monies that the previous government had, we would have done more than that.
“I have said consistently that all we need to complete all the necessary infrastructure is about $36 billion and I am sure we had $36 billion before Buhari emerged as president,” Amaechi stated.
By Abel Ejikeme
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