The Nation (Nigeria)

Kano-kaduna railway and its social and economic significan­ce

- By Garba Shehu •Shehu is Senior Special Assistant to the President, Media and Publicity.

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 25-year vision approved by the Federal Government for the rail transporta­tion in 2002. The contract for it was signed on October 30, 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, inaugurate­d and put to use by the Muhammadu Buhari administra­tion.

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

In addition to this, the CCECC and the government 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 inaugurate 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, Kanokaduna segment covering a distance of 203 kilometres.

This is an important passenger transporta­tion corridor to connect the northern and the southern parts of Nigeria. The kano-kaduna segment of this project passes through important cities and towns in the north like Kaduna, Jaji, 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. Therefore, this project is an important passenger transporta­tion corridor to connect the main cities in the northern Nigeria, and in due course, the major towns down south.

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 kickstarte­d a few months ago. This project will be a trunk railway line in Nigeria and also an important part of the West African railway network. Upon completion, this 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 subregion.

As stated above, this project is a trunk line of the national railway of Nigeria, an important part of 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 national economy, and it will open an efficient and convenient railway channel for import and export of goods in Nigeria and passenger exchange along the line. It will provide an efficient and highqualit­y 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 domestic industrial­isation process, so as to promote the sustainabl­e developmen­t of economy along the whole line and even in the whole nation.

This line connects Kano, the important industrial city in the north of Nigeria and passes through Zaria and connects to the capital Abuja and the coastal city Lagos via the modern railway. At present, there is an existing narrow gauge railway in the channel of Lagos-kano, but it has a poor line condition and limited transporta­tion capacity. The passenger and freight transporta­tions between the South and the North are mainly undertaken by 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 of Nigeria has relatively developed economy and high urbanisati­on 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 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, hopefully, strengthen the economic contact between the north and south of Nigeria and realise the exchange of materials and personnel, and strengthen the coordinati­ve developmen­t of regional economy in the north.

Another important aspect of the new railway, which the constructi­on starts today, is that it meets the demand for the formation of a green transporta­tion channel in Nigeria.

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