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Nation needs N13.82tr to boost rail system, says Amaechi

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Rotimi Amaechi

For Nigeria to have an efficient rail system as obtained in other climes, a $45 billion (N13.82 trillion) financial outlay is required, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, has disclosed

Noting that huge funds were needed to construct more railroads and acquire coaches, he stated that the Federal Government last week awarded another railway contract from Abuja through Itakpe to Warri at the cost of $3.9 billion, adding that the current administration was building a new seaport in the oil city.

The minister, who spoke yesterday on a live programme in Abuja, admitted that acquiring more coaches would reduce the pressure on the existing ones.

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He said: “It is capital-intensive. N1 trillion is about $2.7billion and that is just about 200 kilometres of the railway. So if you plan to do Lagos-Ibadan and you are looking at about $8.7 billion – this will be between N3 trillion and N4 trillion. How much is the budget of the country?’’

“That is why I said we need about $35 to $45 billion to be able to do Lagos-Kano, Port Harcourt-Maiduguri, Lagos-Calabar and Abuja-Warri. Once you do these four tracks, you have covered the country, and you have solved the problem of transportation to a great extent.”

The minister said government was making efforts to acquire coaches and locomotives for the Lagos-Ibadan railroad.

Amaechi went on: “Lagos-Ibadan railroad will cost about $1.6 billion. This does not include the extra cost of things we did not prepare for. The Kaduna-Abuja construction will cost about $1 billion.”

According to him, government is currently implementing the 25-year strategic railway master plan aimed at rehabilitating the existing 3,505-kilometre narrow gauge rail line and constructing standard ones nationwide.

Besides, cargo delivery services to the northern part of the country may be slashed by 50 per cent on account of the rail operations at the Kaduna port, The Guardian has learnt

The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shipping Council (NSC), Hassan Bello during the flag-off yesterday, said they were yet to finalise the actual cost of freight forwarding by rail but added quickly that the cost would be half of the current price.

To further attract investors to the facility, he hinted of ongoing talks with the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council in London, pointing out that the dry port would help decongest Apapa and Tincan facilities in Lagos.


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