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National Assembly tackles FG over Kano-Maradi rail line

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National Assembly tackles FG over Kano-Maradi rail line

Rotimi Amaechi

National Assembly, through its Joint Committees on Land and Marine Transport, has kicked against the federal government’s proposal for constructing standard narrow gauge rail line from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic while constructing old narrow gauge for other parts of Nigeria.
Members of the joint committees protested against the marginalisation when the the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Amaechi appeared before it for the presentation of 2022 budget proposals.
Açcording to Ameachi, “The construction of Kaduna -Kano railways to link up the Abuja-Kaduna rail line has commenced. Survey and design for Ibadan -Minna – Abuja is ongoing.
“Construction of the 284 kilometers Nigeria-Maradi (in Niger Republic) standard guage, rail line will enable interconnectivity with countries in the West Africa sub-region for the promotion of trade and commerce.
“This important contribution by Nigeria would be mutually beneficial by adding to the economic growth of the two countries, Niger and Nigeria.”
Chairman of Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Danjuma Goje and the chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Ports, Hon. Pat Azadu kicked against the marginalization of other regions of the country in the construction of rail lines.
Both chairmen queried the minister why the federal government is not constructing uniform rail lines across the country instead of giving Kano-Maradi modern rail line and constructing old rail line to other regions.
Specifically, Hon. Asadu, who opened the floor after the minister presented his ministry’s budget, asked why constructing modern rail line for one place and constructing old rail lines in other parts of the country.
“Why won’t you construct narrow gauge across the country so that we can develop equally. I can’t sit down and approve this. These are done with such impunity, my heart bleeds. This has been reoccurring,” he lamented.
Speaking in the same vein, Senator Goje asked: “Why will you give us old rail line and spending a lot of money e standard gauge to Maradi? I completely concur with the statement of Honorable member in the House of Representatives.”
Responding, Ameachi explained that the difference between the narrow gauge and standard gauge is speed, adding that the country may not get the money to standard gauge across the country.
He said that negotiation for loan for the construction of Kano- Maradi standard gauge line is about to be completed.
The minister also clarified that his ministry was yet to get money for Kano-Kaduna, Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway projects, saying that “the only money we have gotten is $1.4billion for Lagos-Ibadan rail project.”
On the economic justification for constructing the $1. 3billion Kano-Maradi rail, Ameachi said the project was not based on sentiments, but economic benefits for the country.
He said on completion of Kano-Maradi and Kano- Lagos railway, all national cargoes from Niger Republic, like uranium and gold, would be moved through Nigerian sea port from that corridor.
This, he said, would translate into huge economic benefits for Nigeria.
“What I will do before leaving office is to ensure that we move from verbal agreement with the government of Niger to written agreement,” he assured.
In his opening remarks, Senator Goje emphasized  the Importance of marine transport across the globe, saying that “marine transportation is an essential components to the world economy as over 90 percent of the world trade is carried by sea and it is the most effective way to move huge volumes of goods and raw materials around the world, including Nigeria.”
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