Intense efforts are being put by the federal government to address Nigeria’s huge infrastructural deficit especially in areas of road, rail and power, President Muhammadu Buhari’s New Year’s broadcast on Monday reveals.
The president, who started his long but detailed speech with the sad note of the lingering fuel scarcity, however expressed optimism in tackling what he described as “blackmail” to cause unnecessary hardships for Nigerians as they embark on end-of-the year journeys.
“The consequence was that not many could travel and the few who did had to pay exorbitant transport fares. This is unacceptable given that NNPC had taken measures to ensure availability at all depots. I am determined to get to the root of this collective blackmail of all Nigerians and ensure that whichever groups are behind this manipulated hardship will be prevented from doing so again.
“Such unpatriotism will not divert the Administration from the course we have set ourselves. Our government’s watchword and policy thrust is CHANGE. We must change our way of doing things or we will stagnate and be left behind in the race to lift our people out of poverty and into prosperity,” he said.
While turning to the execution of projects, Buhari said “the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is one of the drivers of this Government’s commitment to renew and increase Nigeria’s stock of infrastructure in order to achieve global economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
“With regards to Railways, we have set ourselves ambitious targets. Already in construction stage is the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway.
“The line should reach Ibadan from Lagos by the end of 2019 and will carry two million passengers per year and five million tons of cargo will be transported every year giving a substantial boost to the country’s economy.
“Construction of the Kano – Kaduna segment is expected to commence this year and reach Kaduna by the end of 2019. By the end of 2021 the two ends will be joined so that we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route.
“The Abuja – Kaduna route will be boosted by additional rolling stock next Thursday and will be able to handle one million commuters annually.”
He said negotiations would soon be concluded in the first part of this year for the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri line covering Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Awka, Abakaliki, Makurdi, Lafia, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and Damaturu.
“Negotiations are also advanced for the construction of other railway lines, firstly from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic passing through Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia to Maradi.”
Mr Buhari also disclosed that the Management of the Federal Road Maintenance Agency, FERMA, has been reconstituted and has been charged with a 12 week rapid intervention in road repairs to cover all the geo-political zones. Government is undertaking repairs and maintenance of 44 roads within the six geo-political zones.
“Twenty five major highways will be funded under the N100b SUKUK facility. Each geo-political zone will benefit by an equal amount of N16.67b. The following major highways are to receive special attention:
- Oyo – Ogbomosho,
- Ofusu – Ore – Ajebandele – Shagamu,
- Yenagoa Road Junction – Kolo Otuoke – Bayelsa Palm,
- Enugu – Port Harcourt Dual Carriage Way,
- Onitsha – Enugu Expressway,
- Kaduna Eastern Bypass,
- Dualization of Kano – Maiduguri Road,
- Dualization of Abuja – Lokoja – Benin Road,
- Dualization of Suleja – Minna Road.
“In addition, Government has approved work to start on the re-construction of Abuja – Kaduna – Zaria – Kano road which is in a state of disrepair. Work will soon start and is expected to be completed in 2019,” he said.