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FG to invest in faster trains – Amaechi

By on December 27, 2015

The President Muhammadu Buhari administration is set to revamp the railway network in the coming year to encourage mass transit of passengers and goods across the country.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who made the disclosure during his visit to Lagos, said the Abuja-Kaduna railway line would be completed in 2016.

He added that work would also start in earnest on the standard gauge on the Calabar-Lagos and Lagos-Kano routes.

The Calabar-Lagos line, according to him, is to traverse Obudu Cattle Ranch, Uyo, Aba, Port Harcourt, Yenagoa, Otuoke, Ughelli, Sapele, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, Onitsha, Benin, Ijebu Ode, Ore, Sagamu and terminate at the Lagos seaport.

Similarly, the minister said the Lagos-Kano line would start from Lagos and pass through Ibadan, Ilorin, Minna, Kaduna and terminate in Kano.

“The construction of new lines and rehabilitation of old railway lines will generate over 250,000 direct jobs and more indirect jobs while having multiplier effects on economic activities,” Amaechi said.

He also said, “The current state of the railway is an indication of the serious neglect of this important sub-sector occasioned by poor policy initiation and implementation. This has led to the proliferation of privately-owned and operated road haulage services, resulting in unregulated and chaotic situation on the nation’s roads.

“Nigerian Railway Corporation has been effectively reduced to an economically unviable venture dependent on government subvention without any return on the huge investments.

“The movement of petroleum products by rail will be re-introduced in 2016. As you are aware, we have commenced and almost completed the narrow gauge rehabilitation, which will be retained for the movement of cargo.”

He expressed the belief that with the resuscitation of commercial traffic from Port Harcourt to Aba, government had begun the revitalisation of the railway sub-sector of the economy.

Speaking on what to expect in the maritime sector, Amaechi said government would streamline its agencies for more effective and efficient performance.

He stressed that the administration was determined to ensure the clearance of goods at the ports within 48 hours.

“In Nigeria, the potential in the maritime sector remains largely untapped. This sector’s contribution to the nation’s GDP is appreciable, but we intend to implement policies that encourage private sector participation and investments towards diversification and growth of the economy,” he added.