By Nazifi Haruna
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the construction of the new Kano-Kaduna railway at the cost of $1.2 billion, the minister of Transport, Rotimi Ameachi has announced.
Already, the federal government is negotiating with China EXIM Bank and it is expected that the negotiation would end this year, to pave way for work on the project to commence.
The minister disclosed this during a visit to Gov. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano state.
Explaining the rationale behind the project, Mr Amaechi said, “I think the President is doing that because the economy of Kano is also large in the country and between Kano and Lagos, we have about a total of 30 million tons of freight, and that will help in conveying some of them to Abuja, while we extend the construction to Lagos”.
Mr Ameachi further revealed that the Lagos-Kano rail (narrow gauge) would have more locomotives, before June 2017, stressing that “we are trying to bring in about 100 locomotives to move between Lagos-Kano-Funtua and Port Harcourt-Gombe”.
The flurry of activities around this initiative, he noted, would greatly impact on Kano and reverberate on the national economy.
The minister then commended the government of Kano state for embarking upon the construction of several new roads and other infrastructure, despite challenging economic conditions, to such an extent that some states cannot pay salaries of workers.
He described the effort of the Ganduje administration as encouraging.
Mr Amaechi also praised the governor, who served as Chairman of the APC Presidential Campaign Council on the recent re-run elections in Rivers state, saying his leadership has given the APC in the state the courage to confront the PDP in terms of votes and personal safety of the party members.
In his remarks, Mr Ganduje, who acknowledged the importance of the rail project, explained that his administration is also finetuning moves to commence a metro light rail project in the state.
The total value of the project, entailing four routes, which will all terminate at Bata roundabout in the city, near the Kano Central business district, is $1.85 million.
He said 85 percent of the total contract sum would be sourced from China EXIM Bank, while the balance of 15 percent would be offset by Kano state government.
“The rail project would save our roads and improve movement of goods and services in Kano, which is the commercial nerve center of Northern Nigeria, and parts of West Africa”, the governor added.