COVID-19 slowing down railway projects — Amaechi …Says FG scouting for funds for Ibadan-Kano rail line
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has expressed worry over the effects of the Coronavirus on Nigeria’s existing railway projects, saying all ongoing works have been slowed down due to the ravaging pandemic.
Amaechi gave the hint as a special guest of the Vanguard Live, on Tuesday ahead of his 55th birthday today, saying all works have been slowed down since the shutdown which resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Minister, reiterated his belief in the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, stating that if not for the shutdown, passengers could move from Lagos to Ibadan by rail without using the road.
According to the minister, before the pandemic, the federal government was already negotiating to commence construction of rail line from Bonny, in Port Harcourt. Rivers State to Maiduguri, through Bauchi and Jos, the Plateau state capital.
He however stated that the negotiations have been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, stressing that the Chinese hardly come for meetings despite assurances that they will source for the funds.
Amaechi said federal government is currently scouting for funds all over the world to ensure the project, including the Ibadan-Kano rail line, are executed for the benefits of Nigerians.
“If not for COVID-19, you can transport from Lagos to Ibadan without going by road, and that costs up to 1.6 billion dollars. I am worried about, we were already negotiating a contract from Bonny in Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, going to Yobe, Bauchi, Jos, and all those areas, it has completely slowed down. All attempts to push them to come for meeting, they come for a meeting but they are worried about funding, even though they said they will try their best to get the funds.
“We are looking all over the world to see where we can borrow money to do Bonny, Port Harcourt railway line. And we are also deliberating with the Chinese so that we can start Ibadan to Kano rail line” he stated.”
Amaechi, while expressing believe in the present administration recalled that the previous administrations gulped up to 365 million dollars on railway rehabilitation of the nation’s narrow guage but none of the jobs, were executed, stressing that today Nigerians can move from Abuja to Kaduna and Lagos to Ibadan.”
The minister also explained the rationale behind extending rail line to Katsina, saying the idea is to make transportation available to the border lines for easy movement of goods and services.