President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the procurement of 17 locomotives for the Kaduna-Abuja rail line to accommodate the surging passengers.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, made this known on Monday while speaking with newsmen after the monthly project steering committee meeting on the $1.5bn Lagos-Ibadan rail project.
He said the reason for the approval was to connect the country with her landlocked neighbours.
Amaechi noted that the government realized Nigeria’s landlocked neighbours like Niger, import through Ghana, Togo and even Benin Republic because of absence of rail line connecting their areas.
He said, “We realised that we had competitors from our land-locked neighbours, competitors like Ghana, Togo and even Benin Republic. These landlocked neighbours are importing through these countries because we don’t have rail lines that go to them. So to address this situation, Mr President approved a rail line that will go to Maragi in Niger.
“But that rail line which will come from Kano to Maragi in Niger must pass through some cities. So the rail line passes through Kazuare and then Daura before proceeding to Jibya and then Maragi. Is it that when the rail line gets to Kazuare, it jumps into the air over Daura? No, it has to pass through Daura to get to Jibiya and Maragi. It’s quite unfortunate that people read meanings to a rail line going to Daura.
“This rail line addresses the competition we have with Ghana and Togo for our landlocked neighbours. So we can now tell our landlocked neighbours that we can take their goods and services from our ports in Lagos to their country.
“Mr President has approved that we buy more locomotives and coaches. We have placed order for 17 coaches. Two have already been retrieved. By December, ten more will be received, and they will all be deployed to Kaduna-Abuja rail services.”