President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday flagged off the Lagos/Ibadan standard gauge railway project for full commercial operations.
The president during the flag off ceremony at Ebute Metta in Lagos state said the Lagos – Kano railway project when completed will link the Kano – Maradi line at Kano and a rail link from the Nigeria southern ports of Lagos to Maradi in Niger Republic.
Buhari said it signals yet another milestone in the drive of his administration to revitalise the railway system, establish it as a choice mode of transportation for both passengers and freight and position it as a transportation backbone that can transform industrial and economic activity in the country.
He said the connection through rail would position Nigerian ports as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic.
“This would be beneficial to the economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation.
“This vital line establishes an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos – Ibadan, as goods to the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa port Quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country.
“In clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by absence of strong and effective infrastructure, we have in the rail sector, further to other ongoing railway infrastructure projects, embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos – Kano railway, which is Ibadan – Kano,” he said.
Earlier, Minister of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari for summoning the courage to take the loan from China Exim Bank to execute the rail project.
Amaechi also thanked the Chinese government for the loan while expressing hope that the Asian country will also approve the loan for the Ibadan to Kano axis.
He assured that the Buhari led administration intends to start and complete the project before the end of its tenure.
“We are grateful that the Chinese government through the China Exim Bank was able to give us the loan at a concessionary rate to construct from the seaport down to Ibadan.
“We hope that we get money to be able to construct from Ibadan -Kano so that we can complete the track and make sure that business takes place,” he said.