By Chimezie Godfrey
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo said the country is fully committed to developing its Railway Transportation sector in order to provide an alternative that is not only cheaper, fast and safer but complements other modes of transportation.
The Minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, stated this on Tuesday in Abuja at the 2nd International Railway Conference and Exhibition with the theme,: ” Powering AfCFTA with Sustainable Railway Development”, noting that railway transportation is practically the “commonwealth of the masses all over the world as it provides the most important linkage in inter – modal transportation system”.
Speaking on the evolution of Railways in the country, the Minister said before the inception of the present Administration, full implementation of Railway vision plan has always suffered setbacks due to discrepancies in Government policies, inadequate funding of the rail sector, absence of adequate, capable and experienced Private Investors amongst others,
According to him, it is only President Mohammadu Buhari’s Administration that has taken railway development as one of its cardinal projects to ensure that it actualizes its Infrastructure Development Master Plan.
He, therefore enumerated the giant strides recorded by this Administration in the railway sector to include the “completed and currently in operation, the 1st and 2nd segments of Lagos – Kano Standard Gauge railways, the ongoing rehabilitation and reconstruction of the existing Eastern narrow gauge Rail line with extension to Bonny Deep Seaport as well as the commenced construction of the double track standard gauge railway from Kaduna – Kano which is the 3rd segment of Lagos – Kano railway project, the commenced construction of the Kano – Maradi ( Niger Republic Standard Gauge railway with a branch line from Kano to Dutsa” amongst others.
While informing that “these milestone projects are the outcomes of the President’s determination to develop, upgrade and modernize Nigerian Transport infrastructure, Sambo pointed out that more can be done with “injection of institutional or private investor’s fund either in form of direct foreign or local investment on PPP basis or through concessionary or commercial loans”.
In his opening remarks, the President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr. Al- Mujtaba Abubskar described the Conference as timely, as it will afford all critical stakeholders the opportunity to brainstorm on fast tracking rail connectivity to meet the demands of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
According to him, the signing of AfCFTA agreement is a landmark development requiring complementary growth and development in logistic and infrastructure sectors of the Continent. Therefore, harmonizing “development of railway at national and continental level holds the critical key to trade facilitation and human connectivity which are imperative for the success of the AfCFTA”.
The Conference was organized by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in collaboration with the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry and African Railway Consulting Limited drew participants from: Chad, Guinea, Algeria, Tunisia and Niger Republic.