By Kunle Akinsola
Another giant stride has been recorded in Nigeria’s rail system as the $5.3 billion Ibadan-Kano standard gauge rail line and the first coastal rail for the Port Harcourt to Warri segment have been approved by the Federal Government, says the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi.
“Just yesterday, we got approval to complete the $5.3bn Ibadan to Kano rail project. We have also applied for funding to commence coastal rail for the Port Harcourt to Warri segment,” Amaechi told the 3rd Maritime Stakeholders Interactive Forum in Abuja.
The Buhari Administration had since coming on board embarked on massive rehabilitation and construction of standard gauge particularly the Lagos-Ibadan and Ibadan-Kano rail lines.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had in early 2019 took a ride on a test-run of the train from Agege to Okemosan in Abeokuta.
The projects are being jointly funded by the Nigerian Government and the Republic of China.
On the maritime sector, the minister said the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, would henceforth take charge of all maritime agencies, while he (Amaechi) would focus on the railway sector.
“In my first term as minister, I completely abandoned the maritime sector to the heads of agencies. This time, that won’t be happening again.
“I have instructed that the Minister of State for Transportation should personally supervise the maritime agencies, while I just oversee what is happening,’’ Amaechi said.
Amaechi said he had discussed issues on maritime safety with President Muhammadu Buhari and that by next year, the country will have a single window in the maritime sector.
“There are two things I discussed with Mr. President that I will be focusing on in this second term as minister, and they are maritime security and the single window project.
“I have assured the government that by the end of 2020, we should have the single window at our maritime sector.
“On maritime security, I have told the Israeli firm HSLI that they are too slow. By now, they should have launched. I want to know the situation of things with the aspect of security on our maritime space,’’ he further explained.