Posted by Garba Ahmed, Kaduna | 4 January 2018 | 1,267 times
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday commissioned Nigeria’s first Inland Dry Port in Kaduna.
The President had earlier commissioned the additional 10 new passenger coaches and two new locomotives for the Kaduna – Abuja train service at Rigasa train station in Kaduna.
In his remarks while commissioning the Dry Port at Kakuri, Kaduna, the President called on stakeholders to make optimal use of the facility and not to inflict unnecessary hardship to Nigerians.
He said the Dry Port will boost economy, create more job opportunities and provide shipping services without sea ports.
Mr. Buhari commended Nigerian Shipping Council for successfully establishing the firs Inland Dry Port in the country.
The Kaduna Dry Port has the capacity to handle 29,000 tonnes of cargoes yearly at first phase of operation and likely to double when fully completed.
It is also estimated to generate no fewer than 5,000 direct employment at the commencement of operation.
The Dry Port, would receive cargo from Apapa Port in Lagos, through the railway or by road and also export goods through the same channel.
Earlier in his address at the commissioning and flagging off ceremony of the coaches at Rigasa, President Buhari reassured Nigerians of his strong commitment to link all major commercial and production centres as well as state capitals with railway systems as a way of bringing about rapid socio economic development and improving the quality of lives of the citizens and promoting national integration.
“This is not only a statement of intent but a benchmark which we are using to measure the performance of our administration.
“Let me use this opportunity to solicited the support of all relevant stakeholders especially the National Assembly and our development partners in realising this objective.
“We are looking forward to a more efficient rail service on the narrow gauge line to be driven by the private sector. It is on this basis that we are creating a more conducive environment for private sector participation by strengthening our legal and regulatory frameworks,” he said.
Mr. Buhari added that the Nigerian Railway Authority bill is already before the National Assembly.
He reiterated his resolve to vigorously pursue rail development in Nigeria through the implementation of the 25 year strategic railway master plan.
He expressed delight that the train service has become a preferred means of transport for the journey between Abuja and Kaduna.
He said additional critical projects which according to him, will link Lagos and Calabar which crosses to Benin, Agbo and Onitsha with standard gauge rail line which crosses Owerri, Oka, Abakalaki, Yola and Damaturu; as well as Kano to Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibiya to link with Maradi in Niger Republic as part of building railway to enhance connectivity with the ECOWAS sub region.
“Other supportive measures to be approved are the procurement of more locomotives, coaches, wagons, workshops and equipments by way of encouraging private sector participation in our rail development,” he said.
The President added that negotiation and concession of the narrow gauge railway with a consortium, General Electric, is also in progress.
“Finally, I acknowledge the great effort of the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, and his team in ensuring that we realise our objectives of providing a functional and efficient rail service to Nigerians,” the president said.
The Minister in his welcome address said increasing the two new standard gauge locomotives and 10 new coaches is part of Federal Government top priority in revitalisation and modernisation, which according to him “is a clear demonstration of this government commitment to accomplish a functional and efficient national infrastructure.
“Such commitment has not only transmitted into tangible ongoing road projects but also into practical outcomes that touched the lives of Nigerians,” Amaechi said said.
He noted that railway transport is nearly being a new phenomenon in the history of Nigeria.
The standard gauge rail from Idu in Abuja to Rigasa in Kaduna, was commissioned in July 2016 by the President.
The minister said the service has continued to be a success story and serves as evidence that this government is committed to driving an efficient railway system that will meet the expectations of Nigerians.
“Today, this service has become the best choice of commuters and businesses between the two cities of Abuja and Kaduna with a daily traffic of approximately 1,280 passengers on the two return trips from Monday to Saturday.
“This service has witness many incidences of stranded passengers at stations and the demand is far above what was available and it is in response to that that the office of Mr. President that we are improving the service by increasing the number of coaches and locomotives.
“The indication is that, we will no longer see ticket racketeering, nobody will be sending us text messages and video clips of passengers protesting at the train stations because of inadequate services,” Mr. Amaechi said.
He said the FG has ordered and received two new locomotives and 10 new air conditioned and standard passengers coaches and seven more passenger coaches that has been ordered and are due to arrive soon and will be deployed to Warri and Itakpe standard gauge rail line that will soon be completed.
“The Itakpe-Warri standard gauge rail line is expected to be commissioned in 2018. This service when commissioned will serve a link from the South-south to the northern part of Nigeria. The detention from Itakpe to Abuja through Karu is being pursued vigorously and we have already received the president’s approval.
“The construction of the Lagos-Ibadan segment from Lagos to Kano double track standard railway line is progressing satisfactorily. We are putting pressure on contractors to complete it by December 2018. This project will be commissioned by the first quarter of 2019.
“The Kaduna to Kano standard gauge construction will soon be flagged off as soon as formalities of fundings are completed,” the minister said.
He added that other critical projects being pursued include Lagos to Calabar coastal rail line that branches to Agbo and Onitsha. Others include the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri standard gauge rail line with branches to Owerri, Oka, Abakaliki, Damaturu, Yola and then the Kano to Katsina, Jibiya and the to Maradi in Niger Republic will also be flagged off.
“While the government is vigorously pursuing the standard gauge railway line, discussion is still ongoing on the construction if the narrow gauge running from Lagos to Kano which is the western line and the Port Harcourt Maiduguri eastern line. It is expected that the construction will be signed off before the end of March 2018,” Mr. Rotimi said.
Mustapha Boss, Secretary to Government of the Federation, Governor of Kano Umar Ganduje and that of Kaduna Nasiru El-Rufai, Shehu Sani Senator representing Kaduna central, Inspector General of Police, IGP, other National Assembly members were among dignitaries at the occasion.
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