President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday inaugurated the 157km double track Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project.
Addressing Nigerians during the inauguration, Mr Buhari expressed happiness that the project which was greeted with pessimism is being inaugurated in the lifetime of the administration.
According to him, the inauguration of the project signals his administration’s commitment to make the railway the backbone of transportation in the country.
He pledged that his administration would continue to prioritise the railway system as a transportation backbone that could transform industrial and economic activity in the country.
On the benefits of the Lagos-Ibadan corridor as well as other on-going railway projects across the country, the President said that “this vital line establishes an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos – Ibadan’’.
He said that goods coming into the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa port Quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country.
“In clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by absence of strong and effective infrastructure, we have embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos – Kano railway, which is Ibadan – Kano.
“The Lagos – Kano railway project, when completed, will link the Kano – Maradi line at Kano and a rail link from the Nigeria southern ports of Lagos to Maradi in Niger Republic will be achieved.
“The connection through rail would position Nigerian ports as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic.
“This will be beneficial to the economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation,’’ the President said.
He expressed delight that his directive to the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance, on reaching financial agreements with appropriate co-financiers to partner with the Federal Government for the development of the Ibadan – Kano railway, was yielding results.
He noted that Ibadan – Kano project would have a connection to the Tin Can Island port and the West – East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.
“From the beginning of this administration, railway infrastructure development has been given the priority it deserves.
“Various milestones have been reached, right from when the Abuja – Kaduna railway was flagged-off for commercial operation in 2016 to this Lagos – Ibadan railway project being commissioned today, for full commercial operation,’’ Mr Buhari said.
While commending Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, for his drive and tenacity in achieving the milestone recorded today, the President praised the ‘‘wonderful team in the ministry’’ for a job well done.
The ceremony was attended by the Ministers of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, his Youths and Sport Development colleague, Sunday Dare, Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, Minister of State for Transportation Gbemisola Saraki, and her Health counterpart Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, and the Speaker, House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.
Others are the Chairman of Governors Forum and Governor of Ekiti State Dr Kayode Fayemi, his colleagues from Lagos, Ogun and Oyo States; Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Seyi Makinde and Dapo Abiodun.
Royal fathers led by the representatives of the Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, the Lake of Egbaland, Oba Gbadebo were present at the event.
Others are the wife of the National Leader of the All Progressives Party, Oluremi Tinubu and top government functionaries and eminent personalities including the Africa’s first Nobel Laureate, Prof Woke Soyinka, captains of industries and members of the civil society.