By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
In a determined move to bring to fruition several plans that have been designed to improve on the rail transport sub-sector, the federal government has set target to achieve two groundbreaking plans.
One of such plans, is the University of Transportation, which was proposed by the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi and will be located in Daura, Katsina state, the home state of the President, Muhammadu Buhari.
Amaechi who was on an inspection tour of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line on Friday, barely two days after his inauguration as Minister for a second term, said that his Ministry is set for the groundbreaking ceremony of the University of Transportation in Daura,in September, 2019.
The minister also stated that the ministry will embark on the establishment of a factory in Kajola, Ogun state, which would handle the manufacturing of some of the materials for the railway construction.
Recall that Amaechi in his inaugural reception on Wednesday, August 21, had said that he will work to please President Muhammadu Buhari as well as Nigerians at large.
Speaking at the tour, he said, “Our target is that they should please hurry and get to the sea port. We have also agreed with them [CCECC] to have between September and October, two major groundbreaking ceremony.
“One, the University of Transportation at Daura and then a groundbreaking ceremony at Kajola. We are insisting that they cannot continue to manufacture coaches, locomotives and wagon in China and selling to us.
“So, as part of the benefits we will get out of the contract we have given them, is that they will build a factory in Kajola”, he said.
He also noted that for now, the Contractor, China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) will begin to manufacture wagons and progress from wagon to coaches and locomotives, while Nigerians will understudy them.
It is worthy of note that, the Minister before the end of his first tenure, had laid down the plan for a factory in Kajola, which he reiterated in one of his visits to China to inspect the construction of Coaches, locomotives and wagons for Nigeria.
Ameachi who led a delegation to China, Saturday, April 27, 2019, to inspect the pace of work at the Chinese Railway Rolling stock Corporation(CRRC) Tangshan Co., Ltd, disclosed that there was a verbal agreement with the CCECC to localise the railway industry in Nigeria which was supposed to produce 15% of the coaches, locomotives and wagons.
He said, “We had a verbal agreement for them to produce 15 % of the coaches, locomotives and wagons, they came back and said it was too expensive to establish locomotives and coaches factory, that we can start with wagon and do 100 % assembly in Nigeria for the first five (5) years, after the first five years, they will now build a factory that will manufacture wagons in Nigeria.
“It is not part of the contract we signed in 2017 but I insisted that for me to sign, they must localise it to create more jobs, reduce the expenditure of foreign exchange. Instead of going to buy dollars, you pay the Chinese in their local currency.
“We have to go further to ask them if we can own it, we have not talked about ownership but what we said is, localise it. Even though they are using their profits to build it, you can make them hand over the ownership to Nigeria. As for the assembly plant, I intended for Zaria but they chose Kajola in Ogun state,” he ended.
Meanwhile, stations are already under construction at the Lagos-Ibadan rail project.