By Dirisu Yakubu – Abuja
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has said the Itakpe-Lokoja-Abuja railway project which will connect the new Warri port, will commence in 2021.
Amaechi who stated this said at the 2021 Budget Defence in Abuja said the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government is committed to connecting different parts of the country with rail, to ease the burden of transportation.
The Minister added that the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Eastern narrow gauge, the Deep-sea port in Bonny and railway industrial park in Port Harcourt are also part of the project for next year.
“The reconstruction and rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Eastern narrow gauge railway, construction of new branch lines and trans shipment centres for future railway development connecting with this corridor is very important.
“This project is also integrated with a deep-sea port in Bonny and railway industrial park in Port Harcourt, that are being developed through direct investment by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, CCECC partnering with Chinese financiers.”
Continuing, Amaechi noted that the “construction of the central railway from Itakpe to Abuja, connecting to a new Warri port, construction of a 378km single track
standard gauge rail line traversing Kano-Katsina-Jibiya with a 20km extension to the commercial boarder town of Maradi in Niger Republic, are projects proposed for 2021.”
According to him, the problem with the coastal rail lines like other projects, is paucity of funds, adding that the Ministry of Finance was negotiating loan to fund the Kano-Maradi, Lagos-Calabar and Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway projects.
Amaechi further said extra works on the Lagos- Ibadan corridor, amounting to $656 (funded by the federal government) has commenced.
According to him, the extra works include the construction of upgraded railway stations, signaling and telecommunication system, power supply scheme and construction of pedestrian and overpass bridges.
“These additional and extra works amounting to $656million which is to be financed 100 per cent by the federal government has been approved by the Federal Executive Council for implementation.
“The project contractor, Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited on the instruction of the ministry has commenced work and reached an advanced stage. Therefore, in order not to forestall the progress of implementation, adequate fund needs to be provided in the 2021 budget proposal to facilitate the completion of the project, ” he added.
Amaechi, further said that for the implementation of Ibadan-Kano railway project, one of the conditions precedent to signing of the loan agreement is to release an advance payment of $864million, saying government has so far made a part payment of $218.7million.