The Federal Government has set aside N120bn for different railway projects across the country in the 2016 budget proposals, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said.
Amaechi stated this in Abuja on Thursday after an inspection tour of the Abuja-Kaduna rail modernisation project, adding that the facility had been completed and that the government would commence free test run services on the route by March.
The minister also stated that construction of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge rail line would commence this year, adding that the President Muhammadu Buhari would inaugurate the Abuja-Kaduna project in May.
When asked about the budgetary provisions for railway projects this year, Amaechi said, “We have N120bn, but we need more than that because the situation is very bad. And the President has taken railway construction as a priority project. So, we have a total of N120bn, and N60bn is for the Lagos-Kano project. We hope that this year we will commence the Lagos-Kano standard gauge.
“Our contribution for the Lagos-Kano railway is N60bn; the Chinese Exim Bank will make their own contribution. For the Lagos-Calabar line, another N60bn will be our counterpart funding. So, what we are doing is to implement those things that have not been implemented for so many years.”
On why he decided to embark on a tour of the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, the minister said, “The essence of taking this tour is to enable us assess whether we are ready for commercial activities. But I think we are. Tomorrow (Friday), I’ll be coming from Kaduna through rail to Abuja, and we think that by March, we should start the test run of the rail services.
“And we think it should be free for those who run between March and April. By May, we expect that the President will kindly accept to inaugurate commercial activities on the rail. That way, those who want to go to Kaduna by rail will actually use our services.”