By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
Abuja-With the Kaduna-Abuja railway completed and the Lagos-Ibadan railway set to be completed in 2019, as well as other rail projects that are ongoing, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi has disclosed that the federal government is working and negotiating with stakeholders to ensure that the rail line passes through the whole country.
Amaechi who made the disclosure in an interactive session with online journalists in Abuja, said that President Muhammadu Buhari is eliminating corruption so as to use the resources to build the Lagos-Ibadan rail and other rail lines under construction.
He noted that the Federal Government is also working to commission two railway projects in 2018 but funding has been a great challenge,adding that if the sum of $40 billion which is requested by the Ministry is put on railway, it will make the work faster and create employment.
The Minister enthused that the Abuja runway project which was executed earlier before the promised time was a star project in the Aviation sector and the reforms which has been entrenched in the Maritime sector has been the star project in that sector.
He also said that railway has created jobs,as some places and sections take up to 2000,5000 or even 7000 workers daily, adding that the local workforce is 99 per cent with many Nigerian engineers working in most construction sites and the Chinese government doing the work of supervision.
Speaking further on the issue of funding, he said that, “work is slow due to lack of funds, if there was enough cash, most railway lines would have been under construction at the same rate. If we have funding, the number of years it will take us from lagos to Ibadan will be the same from Ibadan to Ilorin. We have that cash problem, we want to influence the economy but there is no funds to go with our desires”.
On the challenges which the current administration met on ground, he said: “we cannot say we are perfect; we are not. We have made mistakes. We met many problems when we came on board but we are gradually addressing those problems. Expectations are high but Nigerians are not really looking at what it takes to meet those expectations. It is not easy”.
The Minister who touched on the issue of Nigeria funding the Kano to Maradi Niger republic rail line said, “Do you know what you lose not doing it? currently the Niger republic, Chad and others have abandoned the Nigerian Market, they don’t use our seaports anymore, they use other countries like Benin Republic and they are growing the economy of those people”.
He further said that the Niger government is not contributing and does not need to contribute to build the rail way, adding that Nigeria has to provide infrastructures to compete with other countries.
“If you are going to be competitive with your neighboring countries, then you must have the same infrastructure as they have. What does the railway do for you, no police no customs. Maradi is a bother town and not really deep into Niger republic” he noted
Amaechi stressed that despite the numerous challenges being encountered, “there is no doubt that the Ministry is pushing hard for things to happen and Nigerians should pray for us.