…says FG to Localize Railway Technology
…presents N748m 2020 budget proposal for Marine sector
By Henry Umoru – Abuja
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi denied reports that a train was shot at, saying that nobody shot at any train.
Speaking on Sunday in Abuja, when he presented the ministry’s 2020 budget before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Marine Transport, Amaechi told the National Assembly that the Federal Government was putting in place measures that would localize Railway Technology.
He also disclosed that the Federal Government has so far sent over 150 persons, children, to two universities in China funded by the Chinese government to go and read railway engineering to help in the servicing of the rain trains at the end of the day.
The Minister said that the Ministry of Transportation was proposing a total capital budget of N748 million for the marine sector and overhead of N358 million for the whole sectors of the ministry.
Amaechi said, “The first thing we address about the railway is safety because once it happens, a lot of persons that will die. Each coach, for now, contains 87 persons, if we multiply it by 10 coaches,imagine the number of persons that will die.
“No driver will move if there is a safety problem. It is the same thing without tracks. We watch our tracks. Someone told me that he saw on social media that they shot at the train.
“I didn’t reply because that is not true. There are air force planes following the train as it is going. There is a police vehicle on the side.
“There are policemen in the vehicle and when anything happens, they report to the minister even when there is a stop.
“On maintenance and sustainability, if you check the picture of my trip to China, you will see some black men with the Chinese. I told them they learned from America and you copied the Americans in producing your coaches because when I went there, they were teaching them leadership and managing resources.
“I told them, let’s not manage, tell us how you built these trains so that when it breaks down, we don’t have to make a telephone call for you to come down and fix it.
“So we have agreed to design a curriculum and train all these people out there.
“Secondly, we have sent over 150 persons, children, to two universities in China funded by the Chinese government to go and read railway engineering.
“We hope that in four years they will graduate. Those who will do masters and Ph.D. will do that.
“We are establishing a transportation University in Daura. We are making sure that we have manpower to take over the Chinese. We are trying to localise railway technology.”
Speaking further on the budget, Ameachi explained that the aims and objectives of the budget proposal were to make significant progress and consolidate on the gains and achievements recorded in the supervisory functions of the ministry in the immediate past years.
The Minister listed the areas where success had been recorded to include port infrastructure development, maritime administration, human capacity, security and safety of waters and effective technical and economic regulations of the sector.
He also revealed that a total capital appropriation for the marine transport sector for 2019 was N411million out of which N259 million representing 63 .03 per cent had been released to date, noting that the entire amount had been utilised as at Oct 16.
According to him, N508 million was appropriated for overhead expenditure for the entire Ministries of Transportation and Aviation.
Amaechi said that N190million had been released representing 37.50 per cent, adding that N185 million of the released amount representing 97.07 per cent had been expended as of Oct 9 by both ministries.
The 2020 budget presentation for the maritime sector is in respect of agencies like Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), among others.
Earlier in his remarks, Chairman of the Joint Committee. Sen Danjuma Goje said that the maritime sector plays a pivotal role in the continuous prosperity and development of Nigerian economy.
According to him, the committee would continuously engage the agencies to ensure tangible implementation of approved budgets.
Goje said that the committee would also identify the challenges of the agencies that require legislative supports, adding that this would be archived through legislative oversight exercise.