President Muhammadu Buhari has said the Kano-Maradi rail line would enhance import and export trade between Nigeria, Niger Republic and neighbouring countries when completed in 2023.
The President stated this Tuesday while performing the groundbreaking ceremony of the mega project in Katsina, capital of Katsina State.
The Commander-in-Chief who joined top government functionaries such as Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation as well as Governors Aminu Masari, Abdullahi Ganduje, Mohammed Badaru and Abdullahi Ganduje of Katsina, Jigawa and Kano states respectively, on zoom, noted that the project on completion will establish an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport services between northern and southern regions of the country, reaching Nigerian southern ports of Lagos and Warri.
He said: "The project, when completed, would serve import and export of goods for Niger Republic and other countries in the sub-region through Nigerian ports. The country would earn revenue through expansion of trade and commerce, while the people of Niger Republic will benefit from ease of transportation logistics at affordable cost in their import and export business, adding that "the entire route encompasses territory inhabited by close to 80 million people across 10 states of the country."
According to President Buhari, "the Kano - Maradi rail line has been identified as a viable line that will significantly enhance the movement of passengers and freight to the hinterland, especially raw materials from both agricultural and mineral resources for our industries. The connection to Niger Republic through rail will also foster Trans-Sahara trade and contribute to the expected gains in the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement."
The first citizen also highlighted major railway projects due for commencement soon saying in the next few years, major towns and cities across the geo-political zones would be connected by rail.
"On the eastern corridor of the country, the Port Harcourt - Enugu - Makurdi - Maiduguri rail line with branches to Owerri, Imo state and Damaturu, Yobe state have been awarded for reconstruction to include a deep seaport in Bonny Island and a Railway Industrial Park in Port Harcourt with the objectives of achieving a vibrant and functional railway infrastructure in the Eastern part of the country.
"The Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance have been directed to vigorously act on engagement and concluding financial arrangement with appropriate co-financiers to partner with the federal government for the development of the West-East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar and linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.
An elated Amaechi had this to say of the project: "The scope of this project having its corridor within Kano, Katsina, Jigawa state and the 25 km extension into Niger Republic, involves the construction of single-track standard gauge rail line with an alignment of approximately 284km transversing Kano, Dambatta, Kazaure, Shangele, Mashi, Daura, Katsina, Jibiya, Maradi and the 94 km branch line from Kano to Dutse, the capital of Jigawa state."
According to him, the project includes 15 railway stations of different categories with major stations of approximately of 3,000 peak passengers capacity in the cities of Kano and Katsina and stations of standard category in Kazaure, Daura Jibiya, mild stations in Dambatta, Shangele, and Mashi as well as haul stations in Kunya, Kano airport, Muduru, Dandara, and in Niger Republic at Ano Mata and Maradi.
The route, Amaechi added will have "accessories and special installations including power and water supply scheme, signalling systems, and communications," adding that it would "reach a partial completion in 2023 when it would be ready to handle passenger and freight daily traffic forecast of 9, 364 passengers and approximately 3,000 metric tons of freight on return trips between Kano and Maradi."
The 284 km rail line is contracted to Mota Engil Nigeria Limited, a Portuguese firm, which boasts of huge experience in rail construction and rehabilitation, amongst others.
Vanguard News Nigeria