– The Minister of Transportation has said that Nigeria needs between US$36 to $40 billion to actualise the rail connectivity to all state capitals.
– The Minister also defended the Buhari’s administration, and said that the government is working towards the actualization of the set projects.
The Minister of Transportation Mr Rotimi Amaechi has said this on Friday, while fielding questions on reasons for the slowdown in the Lagos – Calabar coastal rail.
He said that though the project was awarded by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, the federal government does not have the money to handle it.
According to the Minister: “The Lagos-Calabarrail has been awarded but we have not gotten money. We are even still looking for money for Lagos to Kano. I come from South-South and I am emotionally attached to that project but it is unfortunate that we have not gotten money. It was awarded under President Jonathan and President Obasanjo awarded the Lagos-Kano rail line.
“The directive of the President is that we should do everything possible to get the interconnectivity of the tracks and like I tell Nigerians, everybody has to be patient because we need between $36 to $40 billion to be able to do that connectivity.
“Those who are criticising Buhari must remember that there was a point in time we had money and we were all enjoying that money by way of corruption. Now you people are harrasing us and asking where is the money.
“So, it is a bit difficult. We are trying to meet the challenges we are facing, finding solutions to them according to the directive of the President but Nigerians must realize that these challenges are only resolved by funds and those funds are not just readily available.”
Speaking about the progress on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge, Amaechi expressed satisfaction with the project. He mentioned that though President Muhmadu Buhari could ride on the train by end of May, yet, the works that are outstanding are still enormous.
“Yes, if Mr President want to ride on the train he could do by end of May, by which time, the dual tracks would have been laid to Ibadan all the way from Lagos, but that is not the focus. We are concerned not only with tracks, but in providing the stations. Put the trains on the tracks and build an efficient communications system.”
The Senate Committee Chairman on Land Transport Senator Gbenga Ashafa, the NRC MD, Mr Fidet Okhiria, the Managing Director Nigeria Zhiopers Council Mr Ahmed Hassan, and top officials of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, led by the Director of Rail Mr Babakobi, all went along on the trip.
The Minister said though the contractor failed to lay the tracks to kilometre 92 as agreed at its last meeting, he was happy that the substructure of the track platform had been laid to kilometre 98, while he has been assured that track laying can get to kilometre 101 by first week of April.