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FG awaits funds for Kaduna-Kano, PH-Maiduguri rail projects

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  • NASS challenges Amaechi on $1.3bn Kano-Maradi rail

Despite commencing construction on the $1.2bn Kaduna-Kano rail expected to link the running Abuja-Kaduna standard rail line, the Federal Government is yet to receive funds from the Chinese creditor for the project.

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed this while defending the ministry’s budget before the joint committee of the National Assembly in Abuja just as he said the survey and design of Ibadan-Kano standard gauge line had commenced in preparation for the construction of the line to link the already just completed Lagos-Ibadan rail.

But the minister had trouble convincing the federal legislators on the construction of a standard gauge rail line from Kano to Maradi, Niger Republic, while narrow gauge was still being done in many parts of Nigeria, including South-East.

President Muhammadu Buhari had  flagged off the construction work on the Kaduna-Kano standard gauge line three months ago and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation handling the project was given 18 months to complete the project.

Amaechi told the lawmakers during the budget defence session that his ministry was yet to get money for Kano-Kaduna, Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway projects, adding, “The only money we have got is $1.4bn for Lagos-Ibadan rail project.”

The minister also said, “The construction of Kaduna-Kano railway to link up with the Abuja-Kaduna rail line has commenced. Survey and design for Ibadan-Minna-Abuja is ongoing; (we are starting the) construction of the 284 kilometres Nigeria-Maradi (Niger Republic) standard gauged, rail line enabling interconnectivity with countries in the West Africa sub region for the promotion of trade and commerce.

“This important contribution by Nigeria would be mutually beneficial by adding to the economic growth of the two countries, Niger and Nigeria.”

But responding to the minister’s submission, the Chairman of Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Danjuma Goje, and his House of Representatives counterpart, Pat Azadu, kicked against what they called the marginalisation of other regions of the country in the construction of rail lines.

They told the minister of the need to construct uniform rail lines across the country instead of giving Kano-Maradi modern rail line and constructing old rail line to other regions.

Asadu questioned the rationale for constructing modern rail line for one place and constructing old rail lines to other parts of the country .

He said, “Why won’t you construct narrow gauge across the country so that we can develop equally. I can’t sit down and approve this. These are done with such impunity; my heart bleeds. This has been reoccurring.”

Senator Goje also supported Asadu, He said, “Why will you give us old rail line and spend a lot of money on standard gauge to Maradi? I completely concur with the statement of Honorable member in the House of Representatives.”

Ameachi, while responding to issues raised said that the difference between the narrow gauge and standard gauge is speed.

According to him, the negotiation for loan for the construction of Kano-Maradi standard gauge line is about to be completed, adding that the $1.3bn Kano-Maradi rail project was not based on sentiments but economic benefits for the country.

He said on completion of Kano-Maradi and Kano to Lagos railway, all national cargoes from Niger Republic, like uranium and gold, would be moved through Nigerian sea port from that corridor.

 

This, he said, would translate into huge economic benefits for Nigeria.

“What I will do before leaving office is to ensure that we move from verbal agreement with the government of Niger to written agreement,” he added.

 

 

Railway

Diesel cost: NRC reduces Lagos-Ibadan trips from six to two

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The Nigerian Railway Corporation has reduced the number of trips on the Lagos-Ibadan train service to two due to the hike in the price of diesel.

Managing Director of the corporation, Fidet Okhiria, told The Punch that the NRC had cut the number of return trips on the route from six to two every day.

He said, “The Lagos-Ibadan train service is running, but we have reduced the number of trips on that route because of the diesel problem. We reduced the number of trips we are running because of the hike in diesel price.

“We are now doing two return trips as against six, which by now should have gone to 10. So, we run just two trips now due to the diesel problem.”

Despite the rising cost of operations, the NRC boss said it was outside the corporation’s powers to hike fares.

He said the corporation had sent recommendations to the Federal Ministry of Transportation for an adjustment in the train fare.

“We just can’t increase it by ourselves. The government has to do that. We have made some recommendations. But even with the recommendations we made, the new price of diesel has overshot our workings contained in the recommendations,” Okhiria said.

“However, we don’t want to price ourselves out of the market too, because the price of petrol is not increasing as such, rather the increase is little when compared to diesel price. And you know we are competing with transporters on road.”

In the last five months, the price of diesel has hit N800 per litre, representing a 28 per cent increase — it sold for 625/litre in March.

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Train attack: Terrorists release retired general’s six family members, one other

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Four children and three adults among train Abuja-Kaduna passengers kidnapped by terrorists in March have been released.

The children, who are the grandsons of a retired general, were released on Wednesday along with their father and mother.

A 60-year old man was also said to have been released in the latest set of freed abductees on health ground.

They were abducted when the terrorists bombed the rail track near Kaduna, forcing their train to stop and shot at the passengers, killing some of them in the process.

A number of the captives had earlier been released at different times.

A statement on Wednesday a Kaduna-based publisher, Tukur Mamur, who negotiated the release of some of the passengers, said the children and their parents were released after the intervention of Sheik Ahmad Gumi.

“Disturbed by the gory videos images of four teenage children belonging to the same family he saw in the last video released by the attackers of the AK9 Train, Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Gumi for the first time since the abduction of the innocent passengers of that train over 4 months ago has reached out to the abductors through his media consultant, sent Allah’s messages to them and consistently pleaded with them to consider the release of the poor children and their innocent parents.

“It was learnt that the health condition of two of the teenage children has deteriorated since the flogging incident that affected their helpless father. A total of additional seven hostages were therefore released on Wednesday.

“The husband (maybe he meant father) of the four kids is a staff of the National Assembly Commission. There was no intervention from the commission or NASS on his behalf since the travails begun.

“This is to confirm to the world that due to Sheikh Gumi’s efforts and with the support of a serving senator from the North, (a God-fearing personality that doesn’t have any relationship with the hostages) who chose to remain anonymous that all the family of six have regained their freedom on Wednesday morning. Also released is a 60-year-old woman, one Hajia Aisha Hassan, who was said to have been released due to life threatening health challenges that deteriorated recently.”

He gave the names of the six family members released as Abubakar Idris Garba, who is the father of the four kids, his wife, Maryama Abubakar Bobbo, and their eldest son, Ibrahim Abubakar Garba, who is 10 years old.

Others are Fatima Abubakar Garba, seven years; Imran Abubakar Garba, five years old, and the youngest, Zainab Abubakar Garba, who is only one and a half years.

The husband, Abubakar is the son of Maj. Gen. Idris Garba (retd). Gen. Garba, now bedridden, had once pleaded with government to ensure the release of his child, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

He was a military administrator of Kano and Benue states during the administration of former military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.

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FG won’t resume Abuja-Kaduna train service until all abducted passengers are freed – Minister

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Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, has said the Abuja-Kaduna train service will remain shut indefinitely until the kidnapped victims are reunited with their families and additional security measures provided.

He also said the proposed surveillance security equipment on rail tracks would be procured soon.
The minister spoke after he inspected the Idu, Abuja Train Station, on Tuesday.
“It is very important to get those Nigerians that have been kidnapped reunited with their families, otherwise it will appear the government is not sensitive whereas the government is not only sensitive but the government is doing everything it can to make sure that those who have been affected by this abduction are reunited with their families.”
“You must put in place adequate security and infrastructural measures to protect and prevent all forms of threats that are possible and leave what you cannot do to God but everything humanly possible must be put in place to ensure that the reoccurrence of this nature is automatically eliminated forever. Technology can make that possible and we are trying to deploy the best technology available anywhere in the world that has served very well in other jurisdictions which we believe can also serve us very well in Nigeria.”
A memo to procure a N3 billion rail track sensors by the immediate past Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, was rejected at the Federal Executive Council.
However, the current minister said the procurement would still happen.
“We are in the process of procuring the sensors and that is why I said we must ensure that we put in place every infrastructure that will ensure that lives are safeguarded. So, the technology that is going to be deployed is such that you can perceive a threat and eliminate it before you get to the location; that is being proactive.
“The best way to travel as far as I am concerned is by train and by the grace of God, we will make sure these services resume but not until those things I mentioned have been achieved. Rescue or reunion of those that have been kidnapped with their families and putting in place technology that will ensure that threats to lives are eliminated,” he said.
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