By Amina Aminu
President Muhammadu Buhari has officially flagged off commercial operations of Lagos-Ibadan standard guage railway project today.
The President while speaking at the flag off ceremony at the Mobolaji Johnson Railway Station, Ebute Metta, Lagos, said the project signals yet another milestone in the drive of the Buhari Administration to revitalize the railway system, establish it as a choice mode of transportation for both passengers and freight and position it as a transportation backbone that can transform industrial and economic activity in the country.
According to President Buhari, the project is a vital line that establishes an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos – Ibadan, as goods to 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 in the rail sector, further to other ongoing railway infrastructure projects, 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.”
Buhari noted that the connection through rail would position Nigerian ports as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic and it would be beneficial to the economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation.
He revealed that the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance have been directed to vigorously act on engagement and reaching financial agreements with appropriate co-financiers to partner with the Federal Government for the development of the Ibadan – Kano railway and the connection to the Tin Can Island port as well as the West – East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.
” This is already yielding the desired result as construction activities on the railway segment, Kaduna – Kano has commenced with back-end engineering activities.
“Distinguished guests, from the beginning of this administration, railway infrastructure development has been given the priority it deserves and 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.”
He commended the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, for his drive and tenacity towards achieving the milestone recorded today, as well as the wonderful team in the Ministry that assisted in achieving this feat.
The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi earlier in his remarks expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for summoning the courage to take the loan from China Exim bank to execute the rail project.
He also thanked the Chinese government for the loan with the hope that the Asian country will also approve the loan for the Ibadan to Kano axis which he said the Buhari led administration intends to start and complete before the end of its tenure.
“We are grateful that the Chinese government through the China Exim bank was able to give us the loan at a concessionary rate to construct from the seaport down to Ibadan.
“ We hope that we get money to be able to construct from Ibadan -Kano so that we can complete the track and make sure that business takes place,” he said
The Board Chairman, Nigerian Railway Commission (NRC) in his welcome address reiterated that the importance of the project cannot be over emphasized as it would be of great impact to the Nation’s citizens and her economy.
Thanking President Buhari for his support in ensuring the project is a success, he stressed that the occasion is the third time of the President commissioning railway project completed during his tenure.
He equally thanked the Minister for being the chief pilot of the project in which the project wouldnt have been successful without his tenacity.
Dignitries at the event include Professor Wole Soyinka, Minsters of Info and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed , Works and Housing SAN Babatunde Fashola, Youth and Sports, Dr Sunday Dare, Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, Minister of State for Transport, Sen Gbemisola Saraki, Perm Sec Dr. Magdalene Ajani. Sen Oluremi Tinubu, Erelu dosunmu, Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akinolu, Govs Kayode Fayemi, Seyi Makinde, Minister of State for Niger Delta, Mr Tayo Alasoadura, Alake of Egba Land, among many others.
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