By Favour Nnabugwu
ABUJA— The Federal Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with China Railway Construction Corporation, CRCC, for the construction of Warri-Ajaokuta-Itakpe-Abuja rail line.
While Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, signed for Nigeria, the Vice President of CRCC, Mr Chen Xiao Xing, signed for his company on Friday night.
Amaechi said the central railway line was the backbone of rail transportation in Nigeria, stating that the agreement was for the completion and extension to Warri town as well as Warri port and refinery.
He said the rail would extend to northwards from Eganyi-Jakura-Baro to Abuja, noting that the MoU contained the construction and expansion of Warri port, deep sea port and industrial park at Bonny Island.
Amaechi said: “The central line is one of the most important rail lines that we have in Nigeria. I will be glad if we can partner, we will commerce negotiations as we get the approval from the president.
“We can only get the approval when we see the feasibility study. It is part of the economy corridor in Nigeria where we have solid minerals, we have been working on that line for a long time and we will like to complete it.
“If his saying three years, it will be too long to complete 254 kilometres, I think we can try and finish it in two years except money is the problem.
“It is the first stage for them to do feasibility study. We are trying hard to ensure that government participation is as much as possible minimized, this is just the initial process.
“We cannot talk about completion or starting of the project yet, the CRCC has to follow the BPE laws so it certainly can’t go ahead.”
Earlier, the Vice President of CRCC, Mr Chen Xiao Xing, said it was a privilege to sign the agreement on the central rail project from Ajaokuta to Abuja.
He said for the economy to grow, Nigeria must reduce importation and focus on industrialization, which would lead to economy and social development.
He said: “It is a privilege to be here again with the Minister of Transport to sign MoU of this Ajaokuta- Abuja railway, extending from Aladja to Warri port.
‘’This idea came up some years ago for rail connection, this rail line was built 30 years ago but was not operational.
“For Nigeria economy to take off, it must reduce importation and industrialization is very important for economy and social development of Nigeria that is why I proposed this project and I hope China and other countries will pay attention to this market.
“To this country, potential is here, opportunity is here we brought this proposal to your economy corridor, infrastructure like railway must be built because no railway no money, no power no industry.
“If Ajaokuta to Abuja is completed in 3 years other industries will develop, Nigeria is a very important market for CRCC, Nigeria and China is a strategic partner,” Zing said.