The The National Assembly joint Committee on Land and Marine Transportation have accused the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi of bias in railway lines construction across the country.
The joint Committee frown at the proposal of the Minister of Transport, Chibuike Amaechi for no constructing standard rail gauge for Kano-Maradi in Niger Republic while constructing old narrow gauge for other parts of Nigeria.
The protest was sequel to the presentation of 2022 budget proposal before the Joint National Assembly Committee on Marine Transport.
Amaechi said “Construction of the 284 kilometers Nigeria-Maradiv (Niger Republic) standard guage, rail line enabling 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”
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Danjuma Goje and House Committee Chairman, Hon.Pat Asadu kicked against the marginalization of other regions of the country in the construction of rail lines.
Both Chairmen queried the Minister why 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.
He queried, “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.”
The Senate Committee Chairman on Marine Transport supported the observation of Hon. Asadu.
He asked, “why you will give us old rail line and spending a lot of money procure through foreign loans to construct standard gauge to Maradi in Niger Republic”.
Ameachi while responding to issue raised by the committee members 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.
On the economic justification for constructing the $1. 3bn Kano-Maradi rail, Ameachi said the project was not based on sentiments but economic benefits for the country.
He said on completion of Kano-Maradi and Kano to Lagos railway, all national cargoes from Niger Republic, like uranium and gold, would be moved through Nigerian sea port from that corridor.
This, he said, would translate into huge economic benefits for Nigeria.
“What I will do before leaving office is to ensure that we move from verbal agreement with the government of Niger to written agreement,” he added.
He also clarified that his ministry was yet to get money for Kano-Kaduna, Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway projects. “The only money we have gotten is $1.4bn for Lagos-Ibadan rail project,” he said.
In his opening remarks, Senator Goje emphasized the important of marine Transport across the globe saying Marine Transportation is an essential components to the world economy as over 90 percent of the world trade is carried by sea and it is the most effective way to move huge volumes of goods and raw materials around the world .
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