The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has explained why the Federal Government is constructing a rail line to the Niger Republic.
The minister said poor road network, security challenges and harassment from various government security and paramilitary agencies which discourages individuals and businesses from other West African countries from exporting through Nigeria, are some of the reasons why the government is embarking on that railway project.
The explanation follows the public criticisms in some sections of the media over the Federal Executive Council’s approval for the building of the $2 billion Kano-Maradi, Kano-Dutse Railway project.
This disclosure was made by Amaechi, while appearing on a programme at Channels Television, on Monday, March 29, 2021.
The minister said that he had to go to the Niger Republic to plead with government officials to allow Nigeria to gain access into Maradi for the railway project.
What the Minister of Transportation is saying
On why it is so important for Nigeria to go into Maradi, Amaechi said, ‘’It is simple, currently the Niger Republic is exporting through Benin Republic. All the countries that are landlocked in the West African Region are exporting through Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast. Why are they not exporting through Nigeria? Oh, your roads are bad, so the railway takes care of that, oh customs are difficult, they will charge us things that are not what we are charged in the Benin Republic, Immigration does not allow us.
Even when we pass all these, police checkpoints on the road, customs checkpoints on the road, immigration checkpoints on the roads, then communities have their own checkpoints on the road, armed robbers attack us on the road. So we prefer to go to where it is cheaper and safer to do business.
So what we are saying to you is we come to Maradi, we build offices, we build a warehouse, you put your thing in the warehouse, you deal with customs at Maradi, you deal with immigration at Maradi, deal with police or whatever you need for the goods to go, once you put the good on top the wagon, straight to Lagos, once it gets to Lagos, straight to the ship because the things you would have done in Lagos, we have done in Maradi. So it makes it cheaper and easier to do business.
No community will stop the train and say where are those things from Niger? Or if you are importing from outside the country and you are from Niger of Chad, as soon as you finish from Lagos seaport the next place you see your goods is at Maradi,” he added.
Amaechi noted that what they are doing is to grow Nigerian business and economy as those people who will be coming will sleep in Lagos, pay for a hotel and do business, assuming the ship is not leaving that day.
In case you missed it
It can be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, February 9, 2021, performed the groundbreaking ceremony of the $2 billion Kano-Maradi, Kano-Dutse Railway Project.This follows the approval by the Federal Executive Council in September 2020, for the rail line and the subsequent signing of the contract documents for the commencement of the project in January 2021.The rail line is expected to financially empower Nigeria as the import/export hub for Niger and would help the country compete favourably with other coastal countries of West Africa in servicing the landlocked countries around, in the area of movement of cargoes to make Lagos seaports more viable.
Why We’re Building Rail Line To Niger Republic – Amaechi pic.twitter.com/KHU8lt9l3n
— Channels Television (@channelstv) March 30, 2021
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