By Taiwo Okanlawon
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday flagged off the construction of $1.9 billion Kano-Maradi (Niger Republic) rail project.
While presiding over the virtual groundbreaking ceremony, President Buhari also appealed to private individuals and corporate organisations to invest in development of rail systems across the country.
The rail project is a single-track standard gauge rail line will have 15 stations of differing sizes. The major stations will be in Kano and Katsina, intermediate stations in Dambatta (Kano), Daura and Jibia (Katsina) and Kazaure and Dutse (Jigawa).
In his remarks, Buhari directed the Ministries of Transportation and Finance to conclude financial arrangements for the construction of the West-East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar.
He said the West-East Coastal rail line will connect Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.
Buhari confirmed that the contract for the Central Railway traversing Itakpe-Baro-Abuja with connection to Lokoja and a new seaport in Warri had been signed.
He said the project is expected to achieve an appreciable level of completion during the tenure of this administration.
The President noted that the cities of Jibiya and Maradi constitute a significant trading core between Nigeria and the Niger Republic.
Buhari pointed out that the entire route encompasses territory inhabited by close to 80 million people across 10 states of the country.
The President said the Kano-Maradi project, when completed, would serve import and export of goods for the Niger Republic and other countries in the sub-region through Nigerian ports.
The rail line will also foster Trans-Sahara trade and contribute to the expected gains in the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.
In his remark, Governor Umar Ganduje of Kano State thanked the President on behalf of the people of Kano for many landmark projects the federal government has been executing in the State.
He added that Kano is the greatest beneficiary of President Buhari’s dministration.