Daily Trust

Kano-Kaduna modern railway and its social, economic significan­ce

- By Garba Shehu

President Muhammadu Buhari will on Thursday lay the foundation stone of the Kano-Abuja sector of the Lagos-Kano railway modernisat­ion project. The Lagos-Kano rail project is part of the 25year vision approved by the federal government for rail transporta­tion in 2002.

he contract for it was signed on 30th October 2002 and assigned to a Chinese Company, China Civil Engineerin­g Constructi­on Company (CCECC).

On October 22, 2009 CCECC and the Federal Ministry of Transporta­tion signed a supplement­ary agreement for the implementa­tion of the Abuja-Kaduna segment, which was completed, commission­ed and put to use by the Muhammadu Buhari administra­tion.

On 28th August 2012, the government signed another supplement­ary agreement for LagosIbada­n, the second segment of the corridor for the constructi­on of a double-track railway of 156.8 kilometres.

In addition to this, the CCECC and the government of Nigeria agreed on December 26, 2016, for the extension of this rail line to Apapa port, adding a distance of 8.57 kilometres.

Given the seriousnes­s attached to the provision of super-critical infrastruc­ture projects, the Buhari administra­tion dusted off these agreements and commended actual execution.

In June this year, the President was in Lagos to commission this project and officially place it at the service of Nigerians.

In the same vein, the proposed Kano-Ibadan was signed in April 2019, and the segment traverses Oyo, Osun, Kwara, Niger, Abuja, Kaduna and Kano states. This segment, it was agreed, will be implemente­d in three addendums: Ibadan-Minna, 460 kilometres, Minna-Abuja, 127 kilometres and the now to be commenced, Kano-Kaduna segment covering a distance of 203 kilometres.

This is an important passenger transporta­tion corridor to connect the northern and southern parts of Nigeria. The Kano-Kaduna segment of this project passes through important cities and towns in the North like Kaduna, Zaria and Kano, and there is a dense population along the line. This line will undertake passenger exchange in various cities and towns between the capital of Nigeria and the largest city in the North, Kano.

This project is going to form an important part of the West African railway network. The 15 ECOWAS states are committed to a subregiona­l railway network. It is hoped that it will connect to the Niger Republic railway through the Kano-Maradi rail standard gauge rail line which constructi­on the President kick-started a few months ago.

Upon completion, the project will promote developmen­t in the north and rest of the country, and will create a condition for economic cooperatio­n, material and personnel exchange with the surroundin­g countries. The completion of this line is therefore significan­t to Nigeria and the Western African sub-region.

As stated above, the project is a trunk line of the national railway of Nigeria, an important part of the regional network backbone system, a convenient channel and important passenger transporta­tion corridor for passenger and freight exchange between cities in the country and an important part of the West African railway network. When completed, this line is expected to meet the demands for the developmen­t of the national economy, and it will open an efficient and convenient railway channel for the import and export of goods in Nigeria and passenger exchange along the line.

It will provide an efficient and high-quality traffic means for the sustainabl­e and rapid developmen­t of regional and the national economy, strengthen the cooperatio­n and exchange between regions and further drive the developmen­t of traditiona­l industry and industrial­isation process of the area, thereby promoting sustainabl­e developmen­t of economy along the whole line and even the whole nation.

At present, there is an existing narrowgaug­e railway in the channel of Lagos-Kano, but it has a poor line condition and limited transporta­tion capacity. Hence, the passenger and freight transporta­tions between the South and the North are mainly undertaken by the highway. The economic contact between cities in the North and all other parts of the country is restricted by unwanted conditions, forming a situation of limiting transporta­tion.

The South has a relatively developed economy and high urbanizati­on rate, while the north is dominated by agricultur­e and animal husbandry, with a weak economic foundation. This line will strengthen the contact and exchange between the areas with a backward economy and the external economic environmen­t, drive the economic developmen­t in the backward area and play an extremely important role to make up for the unevenness of economic and social developmen­t between regions.

Therefore, the constructi­on of this line should strengthen the economic contact between the north and south of the country and realise the exchange of materials and personnel, and strengthen the coordinati­ve developmen­t of the regional economy in the North. Another important aspect of the new railway is that it meets the demand for the formation of a green transporta­tion channel in Nigeria.

There is a relatively fragile ecological environmen­t along the line of this project, and highway transporta­tion does not only have low transporta­tion capacity and high transporta­tion cost, but also high energy consumptio­n and emission of environmen­tpolluting waste gases.

The existing narrow gauge railway has a low travelling speed of trains and low transporta­tion capacity, which mars the railway transporta­tion efficiency. With this project, it is expected that the standard gauge railway technology, in comparison with the expressway, will offer a large-capacity, convenient, land saving, energysavi­ng, environmen­t-friendly, safe and green way of transporta­tion. This should improve the atmospheri­c quality substantia­lly, improve water quality and reduce pollution greatly along the line.

Lastly, it is to be noted that the completed Abuja-Kaduna Railway is only 186km long, which seriously restricts the transporta­tion capacity. The Kaduna-Kano Railway will provide the northward extension of AbujaKadun­a Railway, and after completion, the length of Abuja-Kano will be 390km, which will greatly improve the transporta­tion efficiency of Abuja-Kano Railway, and meet the demand for medium to long-distance and large-density transporta­tion service.

The Kano-Kaduna Standard Gauge railway will improve mobility in the country as well as ensure seamless movement of passenger and freight trains on the Lagos-Kano rail link.

Garba is the Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity

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