Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi says lack of adequate funding may slow the pace of work and completion of the Kano-Kaduna railway project.
Amaechi made this known while inspecting work on the project in Kano on Friday.
“I have never denied that we are having financial challenges and that is because of economic downturn.
“The Chinese are not funding the way they used to fund us and up till now, we are yet to conclude the loan for this project. So we are funding this project from the budget.
“That is why I was skeptical about the completion and said if funding is available. However, we are putting pressure on all the necessary institution that need to give us money.
“But currently, we fund it through the budget, we will approach the Ministry of Finance again to fund us within this period,’’ Amaechi said.
Based on the pace of work by the contractors, and with adequate funds, the minister expressed optimism that they would deliver the project for commercial activities before May 2023.
He commended the CCECC and the TEAM on the quality of work delivered so far and urged them not to relent so they could deliver a good job to the country.
Amaechi restated the importance of utilising local materials and manpower in the construction of the rail project.
According to him, the government is encouraging not only the use of local materials but passing all those kinds of jobs to Nigerians.
“So that we are part of the process, we are part of the benefits of this, not just economic benefit but also part of the financial benefit.”
On equipment, he said it was agreed that the Chinese should bring in 2,000 equipment for the construction of the project.
He said this was to ensure availability of equipment for the project at all times to prevent reoccurrence of what was experienced during the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan rail project.
“They brought about 472 equipment, 200 of them are in the sea port, but what we agreed is that they must bring in 2,000 equipment.
“This is because what we suffered in Lagos- Ibadan, was the fact that equipment were breaking down, was not enough and they couldn’t place order for new ones.
“So for this one, buy all the equipment that you need so that as they break down you replace so that we will be able to complete the project in due time,” he explained.
On the benefits, Amaechi reiterated that the essence of the project was for easy movement of passengers and cargoes but, especially cargoes.
He said Kano was the most important economic centre and the project would ensure activities that took place in Kano be conveyed easily to Lagos.
“It will create jobs, already the cost of land here won’t be the same. So the economic value here is much more than it will be before the construction.
“Also, like I will always tell people, you can work in Abuja and take off from Kano, just like it is being done now in Kaduna.
“That way you will reduce the cost of accommodations and those who maintain two homes can now live in Kano and go to work in Abuja,” Amaechi added.
On the motivation behind the rail project, Amaechi said it was the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari to connect the country via rail and his duty as Minister of Transport to implement it.
According to the minister, it has been his pleasure to see that Nigerians can move and transport their cargoes from one place to another in the country.