Nigeria’s Federal Government has concluded plans to embark on massive rail project, including linking of the nation’s seaports and airports with rail services.
Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar disclosed this on the occasion of the commemoration of the First 100 Days of President Goodluck Jonathan in office.
Umar said that part of the plan is to rehabilitate the old Narrow Gauge to run simultaneously with the newly constructed Standard Gauge.
He said that government has already completed the rehabilitation of the old narrow gauge covering 488 kilometres from Lagos – Jebba, expressing optimism that the phase 2 part of the project will be completed by the end of November this year.
According to him, ” this will make it possible to move from Lagos to Kano by rail and reduce the pressure on our roads and elongate the life span of our road network”.
Umar disclosed that part of the project includes the development of mass transit rail services spread across the six geo-political zones in the country.
He also added that intra-city transit services are currently operational in some cities, including Lagos, Kaduna, Ilorin and Kano.
The Minister also disclosed that the federal government is working on developing new rail lines with the involvement of private sector through Public Private Partnership arrangement.
According to him, the Ministry of Transport will ensure that the seaports and airports were linked with rail services as a way of improving transportation system in the country.
He also identified the East-West, Coast line and highspeed linking covering Lagos, Ibadan, Benin-Onitsha – Enugu; Benin-Warri- Yenagoa, P’Harcourt-Uyo-Calabar; Lagos and Abuja, as top on the agenda of government.
Phase one of the modernisation project, the Minister said, entails the introduction of a standard gauge rail system to link the major cities in Nigeria.
“In this regard, I am happy to report that work has started on the first leg of the project which runs from Abuja to Kaduna. This project is being handled by the China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC).”, he said.
He said that the contractor has assured of completing the project within 36 months as contained in the contract agreement.
Umar also disclosed that the project employs over 2000 Nigerians and expected to employ 5000 Nigerians on completion.
Similarly, he disclosed that the Ajaokuta -Warri Rail Line , and construction of new stations was at advanced stage.