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Warri-Ajaokuta-Obaro-Abuja rail project to attract $30bn investment —Amaechi

Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, said that Warri-Ajaokuta-Obaro-Abuja central rail project was expected to attract a minimum of 30 billion dollars investment into the country.

Amaechi disclosed this while briefing the Joint Senate and House of Representatives’ Committee on Land Transport, on Monday, in Abuja.

He said that the Federal Government had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China Railway Construction Corporation in respect of the project on Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

According to him, the MoU also covers the construction and expansion of Warri Port and Harbour, construction of deep-sea port and construction of industrial park at Port Harcourt and Bonny Island.

Amaechi said the government had also signed the contract for the construction of Calabar to Port Harcourt rail line with extension from Port Harcourt to Onne deep sea port.

He explained that the project was the segment one of the coastal railway projects, stemming from Lagos to Calabar with branch line Benin to Onitsha, including the Onitsha bridge rail station.

The minister also disclosed that the Lagos-Ibadan Segment 2 of the Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project would soon commence.

According to him, the line would also extend to the Apapa Ports from Ebute Metta.

“We have also signed the implementation agreement in August for Kano-Kaduna, of which the initial commercial contract agreement was signed in 2006.

“The other segments namely Ibadan-Ilorin-Abuja and Minna-Kaduna will come on as the negotiations and works progress.

“In the road transportation mode, our priorities include the completion of some freight offices including that of Seme in Lagos State; Saki in Oyo State and Illela in Sokoto State.

“Others are Kamba in Kebbi State; Jibiya in Katsina State; Gamboru Ngala in Borno and Idiroko in Ogun State as well as the commencement of inter-state road transit,” he said.

Amaechi said the present administration was determined to reposition the transportation sector for optimal performance, principally by creating an enabling legal and legislative framework to encourage private investment in the sector.

He said the long term effect of divestment by government in railway transportation had been the major factor in Nigeria’s weak position in the railway sector.

According to him, the narrow gauge system will provide affordable and safe transport to over 5.1 million passengers a year.

“This will also account for over 20 million tonnes, amounting to almost 35 per cent of freight movement per year,” Amaechi stated.

Responding, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, said the visit of the committee was to conduct an on the spot assessment of performance of the ministry within the life span of the 2016 budget.

Ashafa said the disposition of the committee to the ministry’s proposals in the 2017 budget would be largely guided by its assessment of the ministry’s performance in the current period.

He said that the legislative arm was committed to providing the requisite legislative support to the executive in its drive to create change in the country’s transport landscape.

According to him, the committee believes that with the senate’s passage of the 2016 Railway Bill; more avenues have been opened up in the rail transport sector for foreign direct investment.

While commending the government for the completion of Abuja-Kaduna rail project, Ashafa called for adequate security measure in the rail corridors.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the joint senate and house committee members, during the oversight visit, inspected the Idu and Kubwa rail stations.