The Federal Government could approve the Port Harcourt- Maiduguri rail line contract on Wednesday this week, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi has revealed.
Amaechi revealed this during an interview on Channels TV on Thursday last week in commemoration of Nigeria’s 60th anniversary.
The rail line would start from the Bonny deep seaport and run through Port Harcourt, Aba, Umuahia, Enugu, Lafia, Jos, Kafanchan, Bauch, Gombe, Damaturu and Maiduguri.
Amaechi, however, stated that the Transport Ministry was still in talks with the Ministry of Finance to finanlize the fiscal arrangement for the railway project.
He also disclosed that the $1.6bn Lagos-Ibadan railway project will be completed in December this year or early January 2021.
Amaechi, who disclosed this during a live television programme that had the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola in attendance virtually, said he would work with Fashola and the Lagos State Government to move heavy duty trucks away from roads.
During the programme, which was monitored by our correspondent in Abuja, Fashola, while responding to a question, insisted that Nigerian roads would not last without the construction and usage of functional rail lines.
“I am his biggest champion when he (Amaechi) is presenting his request in the cabinet for the rails because I know that without the rail the roads will not last,” Fashola said.
He added, “The tankers are plying excess cargo; they are moving 60,000 tonnes instead of 33,000, 40,000 or 45,000 tonnes maximum. So, the best way is to move all that cargo into the tracks.
“That is what happens in countries we want to be like, and that is where we are heading. So, he (Amaechi) has my support.”
Responding, the transportation minister said what his counterpart in the works ministry stated were correct, adding that he would partner Fashola and Lagos State to move cargoes from roads to rail.
Amaechi said the transfer of cargoes to rail would start majorly with the Lagos-Ibadan rail line, adding that the line should be completed this December or early January next year.
He said, “I intend to approach him (Fashola) in January and approach the Lagos State governor so that we can see how we can deal with Apapa. Why I said that is because by December to the first or second week in January, we should have completed Lagos-Ibadan.