The Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, says that the best form of transportation is the inter-modern transportation where the sea, rail and road are effectively maximized.
Ameachi who was a guest on Channels TV’s Newsnight on Monday, explained that when all the forms of transportation begin to operate effectively, it could lead to accelerated economic growth and stability.
Speaking about the current projects, the minister noted that the “Abuja-Kano road is under construction and clearly coming to an end. The Port Harcourt – Enugu road is also under construction”.
“There are four major railway lines that we are building. There’s the Lagos-Kano which is about 8.7 billion dollars and its about 1,300 kilometers.
“There is Lagos-Calabar, which is about 1,400 kms and there is the PortHarcourt – Maiduguri which is about 2,000 kilometers. Then there are the central lines which come from Abuja, through Baru to Itakpe and then a seaport in Warri,” he added.
The minister, however, explained that the nation currently has no functioning seaports.
“The one from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri has a seaport in Bonny but the truth is, in Nigeria we don’t have seaports, we have riverports,” he stated.
But according to him, “the first seaport would be the Lekki one where construction has commenced, the second seaport would be the Warri one that we just awarded, and then the last seaport would be the Bonny one which we hope to award before we leave government”.
Speaking further, he explained how the railways, when completed, could help in moving the economy forward.
“Railways are not built for passengers, they are built for cargos. They grow the economy.
“Imagine the total number of goods that are stored up.. we‘ve yanked off the narrow gauge between Lagos and Iju to enable us conclude the standard guage and lay a new narrow guage. Before, we used to move some goods.. between 200-300 tonnes through the narrow guage. But now, that has been stalled because we want to conclude the standard guage.
“What that would do, is to enable us clear the Apapa gridlock because we are taking the rail into the seaport. So, as soon as you come, you drop your cargo unto the rail. If nothing else, it takes you up to Ibadan.
“We are working towards commencing the Ibadan – Kano rail line. By the time we finish that, you’d be moving about 30 million tonnes of cargo.
“So you’ll move the economy and it’s no longer stagnant in Lagos”.
When asked if Nigeria would be able to pay back its loans used for the funding of rail projects, the minister said “it depends on if the government is a very reckless government.
“But Nigeria is known to pay its debts,” he added.
“What we’ve done in the railway industry is to open an exco account because that’s what the Chinese want.
“So, any surplus you get from the Lagos-Ibadan project, we put into the exco account. So, with that, we can generate resources to start paying back.
“But generally, railways don’t fund themselves. The second thing is, generally, seaports can pay itself.
“When we got to the MPA, we were generating over N100 billion, now they are generating between N295 to N300 billion.
“So, I have no fear that we can’t pay back. Infact, the seaport is not even a loan. All our seaports are investments”.