The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Ameachi, has said that the Federal Government would commence the Kaduna – Kano standard gauge railway, pending the loan approval by the National Assembly.
Amaechi made the disclosure, on Sunday, at the inspection of the Lagos /Ibadan standard gauge railway ahead of its inauguration in Moniya, Ibadan.
The minister said that the construction of the Kano to Kaduna rail would commence soon with the financial advance provided for the project.
“I have announced that we will no longer wait for the loan, but proceed with the Kano-Kaduna rail line because we have made some financial advancement from our budget and we still have some money left in the budget.
“We will pay like one third of the money this year, before this budget will expire. When we get the loan, then we will continue from Ibadan to Kano because if we don’t finish from Lagos to Kano it will make no economic sense.
“Once the loan is approved, the ministry of transportation would begin negotiation and construction on the route, while the loan is a preferred option in making development happen on the railway construction.
“The fact is that we are building these rail lines now that we have no money, imagine if we did not construct the Lagos-Ibadan rail line at the time we had no money, we wouldn’t have been here now.
“I am happy Mr president is doing what he wants to do and not listening to criticisms on this project, because America is borrowing trillions of dollars and we are borrowing less than N100 billion and everyone is talking”.
“If you check out the loans, they are not like other loans. Other loans are lent straight to the government, but this we are paying straight to the contractors and people are still not satisfied.
“I pray that the president would continue, by not listening to anybody, once he makes up his mind that this is right for the country,” Amaechi said.
The minister said there would be zero tolerance for anyone who tried to vandalise the standard gauge railway facilities, while offenders would be remanded in prison pending the replacement of the vandalised equipment.
The Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, noted that the transportation minister was ensuring that all outstanding issues on the rail line construction had been addressed before the June 10 date set for the inauguration.
Mohammed said right from Apapa, Agege and Papalanto, everything concerning the construction of the Lagos/Ibadan standard gauge railway project was in order.
“The standard railway project in the country is one of the landmarks of this administration. This is the first time we are having a dual standard gauge, you can see the project is catching being supervised by the Ministry of Transportation.
“This admiration is focused and committed to delivering infrastructures to Nigerians,” Mohammed said.
He said that government would be creating jobs along the line, while the completion of the railway project would cut traveling time from Lagos to Ibadan by hours, in addition to its being safer than traveling by road.
Also speaking, the Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr Fidet Okhiria, said they had set up Diesel Multiple Units (DMU) with 24 coaches and powered two caps for the DMUs.
Okhiria said that the corporation had three locomotives available for the coaches and also provided seven locomotives for safety, while they had just received 87 wagons for the 156-km Lagos /Ibadan standard gauge railway.