…Says security’ll enhance maritime trade

By Theodore Opara, Godwin Oritse, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Dirisu Yakubu

PRESIDENT  Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, commissioned the $1.5 billion Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway project, saying the project will create wealth and business opportunities.

Similarly, the President said that the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, otherwise known as the Deep Blue Sea maritime security project, initiated by the Federal Ministry of Transport, will guarantee maritime trade and checkmate the menace of pirates’ activities in the nation’s coastal and territorial waters.

While inaugurating the rail line, President Buhari described it as another milestone in the drive to establish rail as a choice means of transportation for passengers and freight.

He said the rail line was established to reduce traffic on the heavily congested Lagos–Ibadan highway, just as he pledged to prioritise the railway system as a transportation backbone that can transform industrial and economic activity in the country.

Shortly after he inaugurated the project, President Buhari took a ride from Ebute Metta Station to Energy Nature Light, ENL, Terminal, Apapa Port, in Lagos.

Speaking on the benefits of the Lagos-Ibadan rail and other on-going railway projects, the President said the Ibadan-Kano project would have a connection to the Tin Can Island port, as well as the West-East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar, linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.

His words: “From the beginning of this administration, railway infrastructure development has been given the priority it deserves and various milestones have been reached.“Right from when the Abuja-Kaduna railway was flagged off for commercial operation in 2016 to this Lagos-Ibadan railway project being commissioned today for full commercial operation.

“This vital line establishes an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos-Ibadan, as goods to the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa Port quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country.

“In clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by the absence of strong and effective infrastructure, we have in the rail sector, further to other ongoing railway infrastructure projects, embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos-Kano railway, which is Ibadan-Kano.

“The Lagos-Kano railway project when completed will link the Kano-Maradi line at Kano and a rail link from the Nigeria southern ports of Lagos to Maradi in the Niger Republic will be achieved.“The connection through rail would position Nigerian ports as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic.

“This would be beneficial to the economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation.” 

I’m deaf to criticisms—Amaechi

In his remarks, Mr. Amaechi said he does not listen to criticisms because they often come from politicians who lost out in the power game. He said: “I don’t listen to criticisms because most of them come from politicians who have lost power.

When politicians are in power, they stop criticisms. Let history judge us.” 

We’ll key into transportation master plan—Sanwo-Olu

Also speaking, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, who spoke on behalf of his counterparts in Ogun and Oyo states, hailed the sincerity of the President, saying, “it is a testament to what is possible when a national and sub-national government cooperate on common ground.

 “Our collective efforts have not been vain. The corridor between Lagos and Ogun is arguably the most important in this country. Oyo State is home to dry inland plants and Ogun state houses the Assembly plants at Kajola.“On our part in Lagos, we are ready to key into the national transportation master plan. We are building six train terminals along this corridor.

We are entering a new era of rail transportation under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari.” 

Security will enhance maritime trade  —Buhari

Meanwhile, speaking at the commissioning of the Deep Blue Sea maritime security project, initiated by the Federal Ministry of Transport, Buhari said that the maritime security arrangement underscores Nigeria’s commitment to the framework and the resources and cooperation with other nations .   

He said: “This is being initiated to foster the maritime security architecture and ensure real-time within Nigerian waters and beyond.“This is coming at a critical time when global discussions are centered on piracy activities in the Gulf of Guinea region.

“Therefore, the flag-off of the deep blue sea project marks an important milestone in this regard in our collective effort to tackle security challenges in the form of piracy and maritime crimes in Nigeria and the Gulf of Guinea.” 

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