By Stella Enenche, Abuja
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has said that the decision by the federal government to construct rail line from Kano to Maradi, a town in Niger Republic, was purely economical.
Specifically, the minister said the investment had no political undertone and, therefore, enjoined the public to resist the temptation of seeing it beyond the accruable economic benefits.
Amaechi, who disclosed this on Friday in Abuja, said Nigerians should talk more on the employment opportunities the project would generate as well as imports and exports activities that will open up for Nigeria through the neighbouring countries.
“The decision to invest in Kano-Maradi rail line is purely economical, no politics, people are the ones politicising it, I made that decision because there is a competition between the coastal States of Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana.
“The other three countries are able to move cargoes from this landlocked countries to their seaports for either exports or imports, they are able to do those businesses but we are not able to do them because the landlocked countries are complaining of crimes, the road are not safe in Nigeria, there is Custom interference, Police checkpoints here and there.
“Therefore, they find it difficult to do business in Nigerian seaports. So to be able to attract those cargoes, we decided to construct a rail line from Kano-Maradi, just Maradi, is a village in Niger Republic and we will also build warehouses there to be able to attract cargoes from neighbouring countries and transport it effectively to Tin-Can or Apapa seaport for movement onward or outside the country.
“Or make them import through our seaports and we drop it off at Maradi where they can use there cargoes. Nobody has talked about the employment this investment will generate, nobody has talked about the economic benefits that we would raise funds for the country and that the economic interest is by far outweigh the current investment.”
The minister, in a statement signed by his media assistant ,Taiye Elebiyo-Edeni ,however said that it was the duty of the ministry to construct Railways while the ministry of finance provide the funds to construct and also ensure that the loan was paid back, noting that they would definitely comply with the terms of the loans and pay back.
His words: “We need about 36 to 40billion dollars to connect the whole country through the State capital with rail, we are doing so much with little, so what happened in other countries won’t happen here because we will pay back the loan.
” We have had debt forgiveness before but that is not the aim, our aim is to be able to pay back and to pay back there are so many things we can do. We are constructing new seaports in Lekki, Bonny via Port Harcourt, money from there we expect that it should go to the national till from which we can also pay back from.
“We can also pay back if we begin to push manufactured cargoes to different areas of the country and run it efficiently to be able to generate some funds in which we can also use to pay back.
“If we don’t mismanage our crude oil investment, we should also be able to pay back from there but what is critical is the cost of building this infrastructure now because it will not be the same in the near future if we don’t build now.”
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