The Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, has said that with the commencement of rail transport between Ibadan, Oyo State capital, and Lagos in the next two years, there would be a drastic reduction in poverty in the country.
Umar, who said this while signing the $1,4billion contract for the Lagos to Ibadan double track standard gauge railway in his office in Abuja with the management of CCECC Nigeria Limited, was optimistic that by the time the rail system starts operation, there would be an increase in economic activities in the two large cities.
He explained that not only would the rail system reduce the cost of transportation and at a fast speed, it will enable market men and women to transact their businesses in large quantity in these cities.
The minister noted that the project will be partly financed by the Chinese government through a China EXIM Bank concessionary loan facility to the tune of $1 billion, with the initial $500 million to be negotiated.
"The negotiation on the balance sum of $500 million is expected to be done in due course. The Federal Government of Nigeria is expected to pay the balance of the project fund in the sum of $530,779,101.00", Umar added.
He disclosed that the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri standard gauge railway has reached over 35 per cent completion.
"The amount of political will and financial commitment of the Federal Government to the transformation of the Nigerian railway, so far, you will agree with me, is laudable and speaks volume of what a responsible and public-spirited government can embark upon in the shared conviction that a sure means of transportation is a major integration", he said.
Umar therefore enjoined the contractor to commit the whole of their professional and technical expertise and capacities to undertake the project to the agreed standards and specifications and with a view to completing the works within the agreed time.
In his remark, the Managing Director, CCECC, Mr. Cao Baogang, promised to deliver the project with the 36 months specified period with high quality and speed less than one hour between Lagos and Ibadan.
He explained that the rail system with the capacity of1000 passengers at a go, will attract low cost, convenient, as well as safety of lives and properties.