We want To Expand Warri-Itapke Rail Line To Abuja – Amaechi
…Negotiates $6.7bn Loan For Ibadan-Kaduna Line
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has said the 323km Itapke-Warri standard gauge rail line will be extended to Abuja if President Muhammadu Buhari approves the extension.
The minister also said the extension will make the rail line that cuts across three states (Kogi, Edo, and Delta) more impactful to Nigerians who travel on that corridor. Amaechi stated this Friday during an inspection tour of the facility.
The minister, who rode the train from Itapke to Warri to inspect the tracks and the train stations being built on the corridor, also said President Buhari has ordered that the line be extended from Ujewu in Warri to the new Warri seaport that will be built.
The contract was awarded to the China Civil and Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Nigeria Limited at the cost of $122.6m to be delivered by March, 2019 but the minister has said the contract must be completed before the end of 2018.
“I will have to convince the president that it is a relevant project. If he agrees, then we can value the project. But I don’t think the extension should cost more than $100m.
‘“If the cost will be about $100m which is N36bn, then I can convince the president to approve it. If we get to Lokoja, we have solved a lot of problems and we would have helped a lot of people going to Warri and even coming to Abuja from that axis,” he explained.
On the completion time, he said he is pushing the contractors (Julius Berger and CCECC) to complete the job before the end of the year. He had expressed dissatisfaction over the pace of work done so far.
JBN is doing the rail facilities yard at Agbor, Delta State on the corridor.
“Julius Berger said they will complete their own contract and leave site by August. CCECC is where we are having problems, they are saying the contract completion time is 2019 but we are insisting they must complete this year,” he said.
Speaking on the impact of the facilities, the minister said “Imagine the commercial activities and new jobs that will happen along the corridor and others. Didn’t you hear the Lagos State governor?
“For the first time, he said, people should be importing from other ports and not Lagos ports alone. I asked why, he said the trucks are destroying their roads and other infrastructure. The pressure on the roads will be reduced if we start using the Itapke-Ajaokuta rail to also carry containers from the Warri ports” Amaechi explained.
On the Ibadan-Kaduna rail project, he said government is currently negotiating with the China EXIM Bank for a $6.7bn loan for the project.
“The loan is nearly $6.7bn. But when we met with the China EXIM Bank, they wanted us to reduce it but we don’t see how we can reduce it. But we will put it before the president, so that he too will also make a case for the loan when he goes to China in September,” he said.
He also said government will commit resources to the project and that if they could sign the loan this year, they would commence work in 2019.
“We will also commit 15 percent in counterpart funding on the project and that is huge. But the president is determined. I think Nigerians should praise the president” he noted.