Members of the National Assembly Joint Committee on Land and Marine Transport have protested against the proposal of the Minister of Transport Chibuike Amaechi to construct standard rail gauge for Kano-Maradi in Niger Republic while constructing old narrow gauge for other parts of Nigeria.
Protest of the lawmakers against the project, came to the fore during budget defence session the committee had with the minister at the Senate wing of the National Assembly on Thursday.
Amaechi had in his submission said: “Construction of the 284 kilometers Nigeria – Maradi (Niger Republic) standard gauge rail line, is strategic.
“It facilitates 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.”
However, chairman of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Danjuma Goje and House Committee chairman, Hon. Pat Azadu, kicked against the marginalisation of other regions of the country in the construction of rail lines.
Both chairmen queried the minister for not constructing uniform rail lines across the country instead of giving Kano-Maradi modern standard rail line and constructing old narrow rail line to other regions.
The chairman Committee on Port, Hon Pat Asadu, who opened the floor after the minister presented its budget to the committee asked why constructing modern rail line for one place and constructing old rail lines to other parts of the country.
”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 had been reoccurring,” he said.
Senator Goje in his own protest, said: “Why will you give us old rail line and spending a lot of money procured through foreign loans, to construct standard gauge to Maradi in Niger Republic?”
However in justifying the project, Ameachi said that difference between the narrow gauge and standard gauge is speed, adding that the country may not get the money to construct standard gauge across the country.
He said that the negotiation for loan for the construction of Kano- Maradi standard gauge line is about to be completed.