PDP Govt Never Gave Lagos Right Of Way For Red Light Rail – Sanwo-Olu

 

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has said the administration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) didn’t give the state government the right of way for the construction of the light rail.

He disclosed this at the Lagos House during an interview on Sunday Politics, a political programme which aired on Channels Television on Sunday.

“Lagos was not with the Federal Government at that time so the PDP government never gave Lagos the right of way from the red line now which is from Oyingbo, Ebute Metta all the way to Agbado which was where we all grew up, that rail corridor,” he said.

READ ALSO: Lagos Rail Project Costs Over ₦100bn – Sanwo-Olu

“When I was in BRF’s government, we never actually started red line then. It was the blue line that we started in 2010. If we step back then, you remember we have always had that rail corridor.

“So the Federal Government never gave us that opportunity to be able to do the red line then. So it is just now that we are doing the red line.”

Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics in Marina on January 24, 2021.

 

He recalled that during the electioneering campaign in 2019, citizens of Lagos had always wanted the state government to solve the issue of transportation.

The governor explained that despite the huge capital involved, his administration decided to seek funds to deliver rail, waterways and road transportation.

On the state government’s decision to improve the transport sector, Sanwo-Olu said the move would enhance the economic value of the masses and improve the quality of lives.

“People can pretty much determine their travel time, journey time and have it all set up. We should see the rail movement by the last quarter of next year.

“Once we are able to get the rail movement, the only thing that will probably remain will ensure that civilisation, security components are all proper and we have certified all of the security safety issues that are required.”

 

Lagos-Ibadan Rail: We Have Borrowed $2.5bn From China Exim Bank – Amaechi

 

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the Federal Government has borrowed about $2.5billion for the construction of a railway linking Lagos to Ibadan.

He stated this during an exclusive interview on Channels Television’s Newsnight which aired on Monday night.

“If you look at the whole total cost, it will be $2.5 to $2.6 billion that we have borrowed from China Exim bank,” he said

The Minister explained that the Federal Government’s decision to extend the rail line to the nation’s seaports is for the economic benefit associated with it.

READ ALSO: Police Rescue 10 Kidnap Victims In Zamfara

He added, “But at the end of the day, the project is costing about $2 billion. The government is coughing out more than just $200 million. We are bringing out about $700 million because we have to end to the seaport in Apapa which was not part of the original design.

“So we had to take about 45kilometres rail from Ebute-Metta into Apapa seaport. Everything together is about $2 billion. There is an additional one they are going to bring to connect Tincan Island Seaport to Apapa, that will be some extra cost which we have to borrow from them.

“They also lent us about $1.4 billion for the Lagos-Ibadan while the Federal Government had to cough out about $200 million to make it $1.6 billion.”

A file photo of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, during an interview on a Channels Television programme.

 

Amaechi noted that the Federal Executive Council had approved the two basic loan facilities presented by the Ministry of Transporation.

He stated that the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan had borrowed $500 million for the Kaduna-Abuja rail line.

According to him, since the inception of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government in 2015, the rail line “took us about $1 billion so we had to cough out the remaining money.”

“When we came, part of the project was abandoned for the inability of the government to produce the counterpart funding. So what the government did was to release the counterpart funding and money for the extra work we needed to do.

“We had to buy the locomotives and coaches to enable us to commence commercial activities. For the Kaduna-Abuja, they lent $500 million,” he stated further.

Buhari To Flag-Off Kano-Maradi, Kano-Dutse Rail Projects On Tuesday

President Buhari Mourns Veteran Industrialist, Emmanuel Adesoye
File photo President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari will on Tuesday perform the ground-breaking ceremony of the Kano-Maradi, Kano-Dutse Railway Projects.

The Minister of Transportation disclosed this on Friday via his Twitter handle.

“We are pleased to announce the ground breaking of the Kano-Maradi, Kano-Dutse Railway Project, slated for Tuesday. Our President, Muhammadu Buhari will do the honours. Work begins,” he said.

Earlier in September 2020, the Federal Executive Council approved about $2 billion for the rail line and the subsequent signing of the contract documents for the commencement of the project last month.

READ ALSO: APC Has Done Tremendously Well For The South-East – Nnamani

Also last month, the Federal Government had during the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding with Mota-Engil Group, the contractors to the project, disclosed that the Kano-Maradi railway project would be completed within 36 months.

The railway project is expected to connect three Nigerian Northern states namely Kano, Katsina and Jigawa, and then terminate at Maradi, Niger Republic.

How ‘Intermodern’ Transportation Could Improve Nigeria’s Economy – Amaechi

 

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”.

South African Train Collision Kills Three, Injures 300

 

Two passenger trains collided during the morning rush hour in South Africa’s capital city Pretoria Tuesday, killing three people and injuring hundreds, emergency services said.

Two critically injured people were airlifted from the scene of the crash in Mountain View, northern Pretoria, spokesman Charles Mabaso told AFP.

Another 300 people were hurt, with 82 sustaining serious injuries.

“The current fatalities stand at three, but it still might rise,” said Mabaso.

READ ALSO: Eight Civilians Killed In DR Congo

When paramedics arrived on the scene, they found carriages from both trains tilting half off the track.

“Numerous passengers were found either in the trains or found walking around on the scene,” Russel Meiring, a spokesman for the ER24 emergency services, said in a statement.

Rail accidents are common in South Africa.

A year ago, in one of the country’s worst rail disasters, a passenger train traveling from the southern city of Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg smashed into a lorry at a level crossing near Kroonstad in the central Free State province and burst into flames, killing 19 people and wounding 254.

In 2016-17, 495 people were killed on the country’s railways according to the Railway Safety Regulator — an increase of eight percent on the previous year.

Denmark Identifies Eight Victims Of Rail Accident

The train from the accident is covered in Nyborg on Funen island on January 3, 2019, one day after a railway accident on the Great Belt Bridge. Mads Claus Rasmussen / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP

 

Danish police said Friday they had identified the eight victims killed in a train accident earlier this week, all of them Danes and ranging in age from 27 to 60.

The three men and five women were not related to each other and hail from different regions of the country, a police statement said.

The accident occurred early Wednesday when a truck trailer appeared to blow off a cargo train in strong winds and hit a passenger train travelling in the opposite direction on the Great Belt Bridge linking the islands of Zealand, where Copenhagen is located, and Funen.

Sixteen others were hurt, but none of them suffered life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the passenger train had slowed down after feeling the strong winds on the bridge, his lawyer Torben Koch told daily Berlingske.

“He was worried and slowed down to around 100-120 kilometres per hour (60-75 miles per hour), according to his own estimate, on a stretch where the speed limit is normally 180 km/h,” he said.

Investigators have yet to determine how and why the truck trailer came loose from the cargo train.

AFP

Benin, Niger Back Chinese Involvement In Mega Rail Project

Issoufou
President of Niger Republic, Mahamadou Issoufou (File photo)

 

The leaders of Benin and Niger have given their backing to Chinese involvement in a controversial major rail infrastructure project set to span several countries.

“We have taken stock of the railway issue (and) we tried to see which measures could be taken to move forward,” the Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou told reporters in Niamey alongside his Benin counterpart Patrice Talon.

“We are talking about the Chinese in terms of financing,” Talon said.

Benin last month asked a local firm Petrolin and French giant Bollore to withdraw from the railway to make way for Chinese investment in the latest twist in a years-long saga over one of West Africa’s most ambitious infrastructure projects.

In 2008, Benin and Niger launched a bid to manage the construction and management of a 740-kilometre (460-mile) railway network linking Cotonou and Niamey.

The bid was won by Petrolin, but was handed over in 2013 to the Bollore group, before a Benin judge last year ruled that Petrolin should have the contract after all.

After years in court and months of negotiations, the project remains at a standstill, strangling growth in the country of 10 million inhabitants whose economy depends on distribution of goods from its port.

Talon said that private firms lacked the financial clout to undertake a project of such magnitude, pointing out that China had set aside around $60 billion (50 billion euros) to develop infrastructure in Africa.

In an interview last month, the Benin leader put the cost of the railway megaproject at $4 billion and said China had the “necessary financial means… and technical know-how” to pull it off.

AFP

Nigeria Needs $16bn To Develop Rail Sector, Says Amaechi

Nigeria Needs $16bn To Develop Rail Sector, Says Amaechi
File phot

The Federal Government says it is shopping for about $16 billion to actualise its plans in the rail sector and to build two deep seaports.

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

According to the minister, government is making efforts to construct and modernise major rail lines in the country.

He told State House correspondents that government would bring in new locomotives and coaches between October and December.

“We are bringing in more locomotives; we are bringing in more coaches and wagons, to ensure efficiency in the narrow gauge,” he said”

On what he discussed with the President, Amaechi said President Buhari “sleeps and wakes up thinking about our railways”.

“Therefore, I must always see him (Buhari) and tell him how far we have gone; once he hears the progress that is being made, he feels happy.”

The minister said the President was “very pleased” with the progress made in terms of the narrow gauge, saying they would ensure efficiency in the narrow gauge before the end of the year.

He added, “In terms of the narrow gauge, if not for a hitch, we would have commenced trucking cargo form Apapa seaport to Ebute-Metta-Lagos and take away the challenges we are having with that Apapa grid and bad road. That will happen before December.’’

Nigerian Government Rolls Out 33 Policy Actions To Revamp Economy

Yemi Osinbajo Nigeria Vice President on policy actionNigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajor, says the Federal Government has developed a Strategic Implementation Plan for the 2016 budget.

Professor Osinbajo said that the plan articulates six thematic strategies that would constitute the short-term priority of the government over the next 12 months.

In his speech at the Nation’s Forum On The Economy held on Thursday in Lagos State, south-west Nigeria, the Vice President said that the government would focus on implementing about 33 Priority Actions under the six themes in the 2016 fiscal year.

Priority Actions

One of the priority actions, according to him, is a plan for lasting changes in the policy environment, national security and governance. He said it would enable the government achieve an appropriate foreign exchange regime, increase low interest lending to the real sector.

“We need to move toward a single digit interest rate, maintain capital spending in the budget at a minimum of 30%, complement this with funds from the infrastructure fund for commercial projects, intensify the implementation of public financial management reforms to grow revenues and cut costs,” he said.

Professor Osinbajo, however, stressed that there was no plan to cut staff numbers.

“You cannot say you are creating jobs and then cutting jobs.

“We will maintain sustainable debt management strategy, introduce fiscal incentives to improve collections, intensify the fight against corruption by increasing transparency, accountability and compliance with law and order and intensify public procurement reforms in projects to obtain value for money and cut cost.”

He said that part of the first plan was the governments’ commitment to sustaining the fight against insurgency, kidnapping and other violent crimes, terrorism, cyber-crimes, piracy, oil theft and illegal mining activities, intensify the reorientation of the populace through integrity campaigns.

On the second thematic strategy, the Vice President said that the government had a plan to further diversify the economy by fast-tracking industrialisation, Agriculture and Agro-Allied Processing as well as attracting investment into the Solid Minerals, Tourism and Entertainment Sectors.

The government is also looking at implementing measures to achieve self-sufficiency and become net exporters of certain agricultural items – rice in 2018, tomato paste in 2016 and wheat in 2019.

“We want to increase local production of maize, soya, poultry and livestock, so as to achieve self-sufficiency. The deadlines are to be announced in due course.

“We will revitalise and expand agro-allied processing to intensify local production and processing of cassava, cocoa, cashew, fruits and sesame seed, utilize 5,000 hectares of irrigable land in the 12 River Basin Development Authorities and utilise 22 dams for commercial farming activities by prospective investors,” the Vice President told the gathering.

He further said that part of the strategy to revitalise the economy were plans to develop Dadinkowa, Gurara and Oyan dams with 82.5 megawatts capacity contribution to the national grid, adopt and implement a roadmap to stimulate investment into the solid minerals sector and plug revenue leakages in the sector.

Professor Osinbajo also stated that the government would implement the National Industrial Revolution Plan, launch the ‘made in Nigeria’ campaign, increase manufacturing capacity through the operationalisation of industrial parks and free export processing zones among others.

Part of the second set of the priority actions are plans to enhance support facilities to provide increased financial, technical assistance, networking and information to new investors and existing enterprises, implement the roadmap to increase private sector investment in culture, tourism, entertainment and sports and create high-technology innovation hubs to support growth in the digital and technology sectors.

In the third category are plans to make critical infrastructure a priority, which the Vice President was optimistic would increase investment in power, rail and roads.

The government will also optimise the 7,000 megawatts installed capacity and ensure associated infrastructure to fuel, transmit and distribute the capacity, ensure tariff includes all costs of transmission, generation and gas at new price, and distribution company costs required to operate, maintain and upgrade distribution networks and resolve all issues on gas pricing, tariffs and payment assurance.

In the short and medium term plan, the government will also conclude roadmap on gas development, complete the Kaduna-Abuja and Ajaokuta-Warri Rail Lines scheduled for 2016, commence the construction of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge Line and finalise negotiations for the Calabar-Lagos Rail Project, undertake the rehabilitation and construction of 31 major road projects scheduled for 2016 to restore degraded sections of the federal highways network and to establish connectivity over a distance of 2,193km (through public works projects, maintenance works, PPP and other interventions) and complete the rehabilitation of 4 Airports – Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt.

In the oil and gas sector, the forth thematic strategy, Professor Osinbajo said that the government would reform the sector by adopting and executing a Comprehensive National Oil and Gas Master-Plan (‘NOGM’), as the roadmap for the petroleum industry’s development, diversification, privatisation and governance.

He said: “We will adopt and execute a roadmap of gas development and flare elimination, set a deadline to be self-sufficient in refined petroleum products and become a net exporter, work with the national assembly on the passage of a revised Petroleum Industry Bill (‘PIB’) or bills to give effect to the NOGM and to resolve fiscal and governance issues of the Sector, eliminate gas flaring and conclude negotiations to deal with all funding gap issues in the Upstream Sector”.

“We Shall Remain Engaged”

Another strategy in the plan is focused on the need to ease the challenges faced by persons interested in establishing a business in Nigeria.

He said that the government planned to move 20 places up in the global Ease of Doing Business rankings, by implementing fast track measures for business approvals and acquisition of land titles.

Nigeria is currently ranked 169 out of 189 countries by the World Bank – 2015 Survey.

The Vice President told the gathering that the government would also fast-track visa application and issuance processes to further ease the system.

He further stated that the Buhari-led administration’s sixth strategy would focus on social investment and would implement social intervention programme and specific health and education projects included in 2016 Budget, introduce health sector interventions, including flagging off the revitalisation of one primary health centre per Ward.

The government said it targets a total of 10,000 health centres nationwide.

According to the Vice President, the Social Investment plans include the training and deployment of 500,000 unemployed graduates as volunteer teachers who would be paid on the job while they seek jobs in their chosen careers, implementation of ‘Homegrown School Feeding’ for primary school pupils across the country paid for by the government.

The government will also introduce a micro-credit scheme that will provide very soft loans to a million market women, artisans, traders and create innovation and technology hubs and parks on a large scale and provide skills acquisition and vocational training for over 300,000 non-graduate youths.

It will also provide a ‘Conditional Cash Transfer’ where one million poor and vulnerable Nigerians would receive 5,000 Naira monthly and a bursary awards for tertiary education students of science, technology, engineering and maths and STEM.

“Journey to Change”

He told the gathering that, as indicated by President Muhammadu Buhari in his 2016 Budget Presentation speech, the Administration remained committed to economic diversification through import substitution, and export promotion, in order to build a robust and resilient economy, as a lasting legacy for generations to come.

“This Strategic Implementation Plan therefore represents a significant step along this Journey to Change.

“It is important to underscore the point that we shall remain engaged with the Nigerian people, including stakeholders in the economy.

“We intend to start a quarterly meeting with members of the private sector and other economic stakeholders soon and thereby create a forum for engagement on an ongoing basis. Town-hall meetings at the presidential level would also be resumed across the country to explain progress and address the challenges with our people,” the Vice President said.

He, however, urged Nigerians to remain patient and indeed expectant while stating that the government acknowledged the pains and was concerned by them.

“We are working diligently to address the tough challenges inherited from the nation’s past.

“We are taking action and in due course they would produce satisfying outcomes, for they are borne out of a leadership that has no other agenda but the progress and greatness of Nigeria,” he added.

Rail operations to resume on Lagos-Kano line in six weeks – SURE-P

Rail transport in the country has received a boost with a disclosure that the Lagos-Kano line would resume full operations in six weeks’ time, after two years of suspended rail transport activities by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC).

This was disclosed on Tuesday by the Subsidy Re-investment Programme (SURE-P), Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) and Project Implementation Unit (PIU) of the Federal Ministry of Transport, after a week-long inspection tour of on-going projects in train stations across the country.

The NRC was forced to suspend rail operations on the busy commercial route when the crucial Akerri Bridge linking the North and Southern Nigeria was washed away by flash floods.

However, following the recent financing intervention of its rehabilitation by the SURE-P Committee, NRC announced that rail operations would commence in six weeks when repairs on the Bridge would have been completed.

The SURE-P Committee member and Sub-committee convener on Railways, Chike Okogwu, who led a team of inspectors drawn from a pool of professional engineers of PIU and NRC, confirmed this to journalists.

Mr Okogwu said that they embarked on the tour having been mandated by the presidency to get railway back on track, SURE-P injected massive funds into the otherwise crumbling transport sector and ensured that work commenced almost immediately on a dozen sites across the country.

Also, the Chairman of the PIU, Eric Onyeiwu, said that the week-long verification exercise has not just enabled the team to evaluate work-in-progress at the various sites, but has been useful for proper decision taking.

Mr Onyeiwu said that although members of the PIU were worried about the slow pace of work by some of the contractors on site particularly work on Asa community in Aba, contracted to Esser Nigeria Ltd, they were delighted by the overall performance of the contractors.

“Many of the contractors are performing well. But we also have issues to sort out with a few of them. We are expecting NRC to give us more detailed information about those areas we are not contented with”, he said.

“There is a noticeable improvement in the quality of work done, improvement by the commitment of NRC, improvement by the contractors and others involved in the projects,” he added.

The delegation kicked off their visit from Lagos and went through Port Harcourt, Aba, Makurdi, Lafia, Kafanchan and Gombe and ended on inspections at Akerri Bridge and Brigde 73 near Minna in Niger State.