FG to link state cap­i­tals with rail­ways

Daily Trust - - FRONT PAGE - By Isi­aka Wak­ili & Chris Agabi

Pres­i­dent Muham­madu Buhari has as­sured that most state cap­i­tals as well as ma­jor com­mer­cial and pro­duc­tion cen­tres will be linked with rail lines.

This, ac­cord­ing to him, is to en­sure rapid so­cio-eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, im­prove the qual­ity of life of Nige­ri­ans and pro­mote so­cial and re­gional in­te­gra­tion.

The pres­i­dent gave the as­sur­ance in Abuja yes­ter­day at the com­mis­sion­ing and flag-off of the Abuja-Kaduna Stan­dard Gauge Train Ser­vice.

De­scrib­ing the event as the sym­bolic re­turn of rail ser­vice in the coun­try, Buhari said he was pleased to com­plete and com­mis­sion the project which he noted, was con­ceived by a pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion and started by the for­mer one.

“It is on record that be­tween 1963 and early 80’s, Nige­ria had a vi­brant rail sys­tem which con­veyed agri­cul­tural, live­stock and solid min­eral re­sources to the La­gos and Port Har­court sea ports from where they were ex­ported to other parts of the world. It is our vi­sion and hope that those good old days will soon be back with us and in­deed in a more pros­per­ous way with the restora­tion of rail trans­port sys­tem which to­day’s oc­ca­sion sym­bol­ises.

“The con­struc­tion of the Abuja-Kaduna Stan­dard Gauge rail track com­menced in 2009 and hap­pily, 16 years af­ter, we are on the thresh­old of pre­sent­ing to Nige­ri­ans a Stan­dard Gauge Rail­way Train Ser­vice that will be safe, fast and re­li­able. The Abuja-Kaduna train ser­vice will pro­vide the much needed al­ter­na­tive trans­port link be­tween the Fed­eral Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory and Kaduna State, a cor­ri­dor which has a huge po­ten­tial for in­dus­tries, agri­cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties and a grow­ing labour force,” he said.

Buhari said the com­ple­tion and com­mis­sion­ing of the project was in keep­ing with his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s vi­sion of bring­ing about the de­sired change to make life eas­ier for the gen­er­al­ity of Nige­ri­ans through the de­vel­op­ment and pro­vi­sion of the nec­es­sary so­cial and phys­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture.

He also as­sured that due at­ten­tion would be placed on pur­su­ing the 25-Year Strate­gic Rail­way Mas­ter Plan aimed at re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing the ex­ist­ing 3,505km nar­row gauge rail line and de­vel­op­ing and con­struct­ing new stan­dard gauge rail lines across Nige­ria.

He re­it­er­ated his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s com­mit­ment to pur­su­ing, with greater vigour and de­ter­mi­na­tion, the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and con­struc­tion of other rail lines in­clud­ing the ma­jor LagosCal­abar and Kano-La­gos lines.

Pres­i­dent Buhari said he looked for­ward to the flag-off of many more lines out­lined in his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s trans­port pol­icy pro­gramme.

Senate Pres­i­dent, Bukola Saraki, said the National As­sem­bly had passed the Rail­way Bill and the con­sti­tu­tion would be amended to al­low states and the pri­vate sec­tor in­vest in the rail­ways.

The Min­is­ter of Trans­porta­tion, Mr. Amaechi, noted that with the new rail ser­vice, peo­ple could live in Kaduna and work in Abuja.

He as­sured that other rail projects would be com­pleted in record time even as he as­sured of the se­cu­rity of pas­sen­gers.

Kaduna State Gover­nor Malam Nasir El-Ru­fai, who was the min­is­ter of the FCT at the time the project was con­ceived 16 years ago, said the state gov­ern­ment would de­velop com­mer­cial cen­tres in the ma­jor towns along the rail line.

“The Kaduna State gov­ern­ment has al­ready de­clared the en­tire right of way within the state of this rail line a plan­ning area and our in­ten­tion is to cre­ate new satel­lite towns at Jere, Ri­jana and Ri­gasa; our hope is to take away peo­ple that cur­rently live in Kubwa, Lugbe and other satel­lite towns of Abuja, to live in Kaduna State and com­mute and work in Abuja” he said.

The chairman of the firm han­dling the project, CCECC, Mr. Yuan Li, said over 5,000 jobs cre­ated dur­ing the con­struc­tion pe­riod and its op­er­a­tion while more than 1,000 per­ma­nent jobs were cre­ated in ad­di­tion to the over 10,000 job op­por­tu­ni­ties that would emerge as a re­sult of train op­er­a­tion.

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