China To Approve $5.3bn For Nigeria’s Railway Construction, Says Amaechi

 

The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, says China has been very helpful to Nigeria.

He stated this on Friday during a special broadcast which aired on Channels Television to mark the nation’s Democracy Day.

The Minister noted that the People Republic of China and the Chinese people have been very helpful to the Federal Government following the disbursement of cash to fun infrastructure, especially railway.

For instance, Amaechi said the Asian country released $1.6billion for the Lagos-Ibadan railway and is expected to approve $5.3billion by October.

“The Chinese government and the Chinese people have been very helpful to Nigeria. They have released $1.6billion for the Lagos-Ibadan.

“They have agreed to approve (and) we hope that by October, they should be able to approve the $5.3billion for the Federal Government of Nigeria so that we can commence and complete the construction of the Ibadan-Kano railway,” he said.

READ ALSO: APC Committee Disqualifies Obaseki, Others From Edo Primary Election

The Lagos–Kano Standard Gauge Railway is an under-construction standard gauge railway across Nigeria, from the Atlantic Ocean port of Lagos to Kano, near the Niger border.

The railway will run parallel to the British-built Cape gauge line, which has a lower design capacity and is in a deteriorated condition.

The railway is being built in segments. Only the segment between Abuja and Kaduna has been completed so far, and services began officially in July 2016.

The 187 km segment is an important junction point on the existing Cape gauge railway network, where a branch line departs the Lagos–Nguru line for Kafanchan, on the Port Harcourt–Maiduguri Railway.

Buhari Hails Minister Of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi At 55

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has sent warm felicitations to Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, on his 55th birthday, commending his result-oriented leadership style, which positively reflects on people and projects he has supervised over the years.

The President joined the All Progressives Congress (APC), family and political associates of the former Governor of Rivers State in celebrating the milestone, while congratulating him for a meteoric political rise, underlined by his forthrightness, diligence and deep sense of loyalty and patriotism.

READ ALSO: SGF: We Have Identified Three Claims Of Local COVID-19 Cure For Further Investigation

As the Minister of Transportation turns 55, President Buhari believes his investments in the development of Rivers State, and current efforts in building infrastructure across the country will always be remembered by posterity, urging him to stay focused on the larger picture of working to improve lives.

The President also extols Amaechi for his willingness to make sacrifices and support the governing party, APC, recalling, with appreciation, the major role he played in the 2015 and 2019 Presidential Elections, and his continuous contributions to promote peace and unity of purpose.

President Buhari prays that the almighty God will position the Director General of his Presidential Campaigns for greater glory, and grant him more opportunities to serve the country and humanity.

How Coronavirus Outbreak Is Delaying Completion Of Lagos-Ibadan Rail Project – Amaechi

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has explained how the Coronavirus outbreak is affecting the speedy completion of Lagos-Ibadan expressway.

Amaechi disclosed this on Wednesday while addressing participants at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) consultative round table.

According to Amaechi, the project would have been completed in May but might not be feasible anymore because the contractors handling the project are employees of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).

RELATED: Again, Amaechi Inspects Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line Says, ‘I’m Unhappy With Pace Of Work’

“Lagos-Ibadan would have been ready in May. Unfortunately, nearly all of them that went for the Chinese New Year were quarantined by their government. Their government said they cannot come back until they find a solution to the Coronavirus.

“It is only those who didn’t travel that are here and therefore the speed of the construction has reduced,” he said.

In November 2019, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi assured that the project would be delivered by April 2020.

He, however, took to his Twitter handle in January 2020 to lament the pace of work done by the contractors.

“Looking at the state of work in Apapa, completing the project in April doesn’t seem feasible, especially the extension of the rail line to the seaport. We’ll, however, continue to work and redouble our efforts to complete the project and meet set targets. #LagosIbadanRail,” he tweeted in January 2020.

The Minister at the CBN roundtable also lamented that Nigerians have politicised noting that, “everybody wants a railway in his village without bothering to ask, what is the relevance of railway in my village?”

 

Coronavirus, A Global Risk?

The World Health Organization in February raised its global risk assessment of the new coronavirus to its highest level after the epidemic spread to sub-Saharan Africa and financial markets slumped.

The virus has proliferated around the globe emerging on every continent except Antarctica, prompting many governments and businesses to try to stop people from traveling or gathering in crowded places.

It has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 84,000 worldwide — the vast majority in China — since it emerged apparently from an animal market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late December.

The Nigerian government on March 9 confirmed the second case of coronavirus in the country.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said newly confirmed case was a contact of the index case and not an importation into the country.

FG Cannot Intervene In Ban Of Okada, Tricycles In Lagos – Amaechi

 

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Monday, said the federal government does not have the jurisdiction to intervene in the recent ban of okada and tricycles in some parts of Lagos State.

The Lagos state government started to implement a ban on motorcycles, popularly known as okadas, and tricycles in major parts of the state on Saturday.

But the Minister, who was a guest on Sunrise Daily, said the matter was a state affair.

READ ALSO: Police Enforce Ban, Arrest ‘Okada’, Tricycle Riders In Lagos

“Implementation of transport policy is essentially a state affair,” he said. “So you can’t be telling a state whether they want ‘okada’ or tricycles or not. That’s not our responsibility. It is for the state government to decide what to do.”

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, appeared on Sunrise Daily on Monday, February 3, 2020.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, appeared on Sunrise Daily on Monday, February 3, 2020.

 

However, Amaechi, who is a former Governor of Rivers State, said he could see some reason why the state government made the decision.

“Speaking as a former Governor, when I was in Rivers State, they were using motorcycles to rob and kidnap people; and the police could never get them because they were using cars; so I banned motorcycles and we had peace. The number of accidents was also high – the orthopaedic hospital was full every day. 

READ ALSO: Why We Won’t Increase Abuja-Kaduna Rail Fares – Amaechi

“I don’t know the reason why the Governor of Lagos state banned it; only he can tell you. I am sure he made his decision based on the interests of a majority of Lagosians.

“But he has a problem to face, which is unemployment and increase in crime.”

Why We Won’t Increase Abuja-Kaduna Rail Fares – Amaechi

 

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Monday, said the government will not further increase ticket prices on the Abuja-Kaduna rail route, in order to accommodate the poor.

The Minister, who made the comment during an interview on Sunrise Daily, noted he is aware of calls to increase the ticket prices, to ensure the railway makes enough profit to pay back the loans incurred in its construction and become sustainable.

But Amaechi said railways don’t make profits (from passenger ticket prices) across the world because they are usually subsidised.

READ ALSO: Again, Amaechi Inspects Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line Says, ‘I’m Unhappy With Pace Of Work’

“If we increase the cost of the tickets, what about the poor man that wants to move from Abuja to Kaduna? What about the poor man who works in Abuja and lives in Kaduna to save the cost of accommodation,” he said.

 “So, usually, all over the world, you subsidise railway, so that the poor can have an easy means for transportation so that you improve your economy. Don’t forget, the railway is built not for passenger transportation, it is built as a means to grow the economy of a country.

“The economy will pay for it. Take the numbers of businesses that you grow across that line, take the numbers of companies you’ve established, take the taxes they pay to you.”

Solving Ticket Racketeering

Meanwhile, to solve the problem of ticket racketeering on the Abuja-Kaduna rail route, the Minister said the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) is set to roll out new locomotives and coaches.

He explained that the number of coaches and locomotives earlier deployed to the route was for 300 passengers daily.

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, appeared on Sunrise Daily on Monday, February 3, 2020.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, appeared on Sunrise Daily on Monday, February 3, 2020.

 

“Traffic count as at the time we deployed those coaches was 300. So, every day you move 300 passengers,” he said. “And suddenly there is a spike. You have 3,700 passengers per day with the same number of locomotives and coaches for 300 people, so what do you do? 

“Don’t forget that the coaches and locomotives are not things you just go to the shop and buy. No, you have to manufacture, you have to fabricate. It took us nearly two years to fabricate the new coaches and locomotives that are just arriving now.”

Lagos-Ibadan Route Delay

On the Lagos-Ibadan railway, the Minister declined to give a deadline for the route’s completion. 

“We agreed I should not talk about deadlines anymore,” he said, referring to the Chinese contractors in charge of the project, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

READ ALSO: Why Lagos-Ibadan Rail May Not Be Completed By April – Amaechi

“What they told us the first time was April 2020. But they ran into problems. Their goods were yet to be cleared from the seaport. But the Director of Nigeria Ports Authority helped get their goods to berth. 

“Now they are clearing. Because of that delay in clearing the cargoes they need to build stations, do the signalling and communications – they’ve completed tracks. I used the tracks to Ibadan and back. But that’s not what the railway is. You have to deal with signalling, terminals and all that. Now that all that has been discharged from the seaports, we hope that they will complete it according to the time they gave me – I won’t tell anybody the time; I will keep it to myself.

“There is an improvement, now, in the pace of work. They’ve cleared the items they need to complete the stations and signalling. The pace of work has improved. Manpower has also increased.”

Again, Amaechi Inspects Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line Says, ‘I’m Unhappy With Pace Of Work’

 

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, says he is unhappy with the pace of work by the contractors handling the Lagos-Ibadan rail line project.

Amaechi said this on Friday in a series of tweets on his official handle after inspecting the Apapa port axis of the rail line.

This is the second time the Minister will visit the site of the rail line construction site within one week. He insisted that the contractors must meet set targets.

READ ALSO: Why Lagos-Ibadan Rail May Not Be Completed By April – Amaechi

Amaechi was accompanied on the inspection by contractors handling the project –  the chairman of China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) group and the Managing Director, CCECC Nigeria.

Speaking further on the issue of meeting the deadline, Amaechi acknowledged that some progress had been made since the last time he visited.

He later disclosed in another Tweet that the contractors have assured that rail line up to Apapa would be completed by April while minor stations will be completed in June.

He added that he was informed that major stations will be completed in August.

Why Lagos-Ibadan Rail May Not Be Completed By April – Amaechi

Photo combination of the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi during an interview with Channels Television; and the Minster with Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde inspecting the rail line.

 

Nigerians hoping to enjoy the full services of the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line may have to wait a little longer as the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi says there are some setbacks and the completion of the project by April is no longer feasible.

Amaechi disclosed this on Monday during an interview with Channels Television after a routine inspection of the rail line.

He was accompanied by Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde and the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki during the routine inspection of the project.

According to the Minister, the project has reached 85% stage of completion but the remaining 15% is still huge and the contractors need to extend the progress recorded to the major stations.

“The project is 85% completed but the 15% remaining is actually huge. It is not just an ordinary 15%. Until the progress is extended to Ebute-Metta and Apapa, I will disagree with the 15% they said is remaining.

“From Ebute-Metta to Ibadan, extensive work has been done. They promised that minor stations will be ready but what about the major stations. There are about four major stations which include Ebute Metta, Apapa, Abeokuta, and Ibadan. The remaining eight or nine minor stations, they claim will be ready before April,” Amaechi said.

The Minister also gave updates on the inspection on his Twitter handle. He further expressed doubt about the possibility of completing the project in April as earlier planned.

“Looking at the state of work in Apapa, completing the project in April doesn’t seem feasible, especially the extension of the rail line to the seaport. We’ll, however, continue to work and redouble our efforts to complete the project and meet set targets. #LagosIbadanRail,” he tweeted.

 

The Minister alongside the top officials had earlier kicked off the assessment from Ebute Meta to Apapa where the Federal Government hopes to decongest the traffic at the Lagos Port by extending the rail project to that axis.

They also inspected the Iju station of the 157 kilometers project – from Fagba area of Lagos to Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

Amaechi, Makinde Inspect Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line

 

The Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi and Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde on Monday inspected the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line.

The Minister and the state governor were accompanied by other top government officials.

The assessment started from Ebute Metta to Apapa where the Federal Government hopes to decongest the traffic at the Lagos Port by extending the rail project to that axis.

READ ALSO: Border Closure Not Meant To Punish Our Neighbours, Says Buhari

The team also proceeds to Iju station to kickstart the inspection of the 157 kilometres project – which spans from Fagba area in Lagos State to Ibadan, Oyo State Capital.

The Minister for Transportation also took to his Twitter handle to share photos from the inspection.

He noted that a large chunk of the rail line is in Oyo State.

Restructuring: Financially Weaker States Should Be Helped, Says Amaechi

 

The Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, says any restructuring plan for Nigeria must include provisions to help financially weaker states to survive and perform basic responsibilities.

According to him, that way, possible fears about the survival abilities of states will be eliminated.

Read Also: Senate Will Approve Buhari’s $29.96bn Loan Request, Says Lawan

“For me, I prefer to copy the kind of restructuring we saw in Germany, which provides the basic line,” the minister who was a guest on Channels Television’s Newsnight said.

“If no state can raise up to N5million per month to pay their salaries, then all of us including the Federal Government will contribute money for that state.

“Which means, you can devolve power and revenue but if no state can raise that kind of money to sustain itself then both the Federal Government and all other states must come together to put money to enable that state to survive.

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”.

FG Approves $5.3bn Ibadan-Kano Rail Project

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi

 

The Federal Government has approved the $5.3billion Ibadan to Kano standard gauge rail project.

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi disclosed this on Thursday in Lagos during the third Maritime Stakeholders Interactive Forum.

“There are two things I discussed with Mr. President that I will be focusing on in this second term as Minister, and they are maritime security and the Single Window project.

READ ALSO: Fuel Price: I Have No Intention Of Inflicting Hardship On Nigerians, Says Buhari

“I have assured the government that by the end of 2020, we should have the Single Window at our Maritime sector.

“Just yesterday, we got approval to complete the $5.3billion Ibadan to Kano rail project. We have also applied for funding to commence coastal rail for the Port-Harcourt to Warri segment,” he said.

Amaechi also revealed that the Minister of Transportation, State, Gbemisola Saraki will personally be in charge of all maritime agencies while he will be focusing on the Railway sector.

“In my first term as Minister, I completely abandoned the maritime sector to the Heads of agencies.

“This term around, that won’t be happening again as I have instructed that the Honourable Minister of Transportation for State should personally supervise the maritime agencies, while I just oversight what is happening.

Amaechi, speaking further on maritime security said he has complained to the Israeli firm, HSLI that “they are too slow.”

He added that the firm should have launched by now, and that the aspect of security on maritime space is his top priority.

Amaechi, Akpabio, Four Others ‘Take A Bow’ As Senate Screens Ministerial Nominees

 

Six ministerial nominees have enjoyed the ‘take a bow’ privilege at the screening by the Nigerian Senate on Wednesday.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Tuesday, forwarded the names of 43 nominees to constitute his cabinet to the senate, eight weeks after he was sworn in for a second term.

According to the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, the decision was in line with the long-standing tradition of the legislature that all former lawmakers nominated for appointments are given an automatic endorsement.

The ministers-nominees who enjoyed the privilege include; Godswill Akpabio,  Olorunnimbe Mamora, George Akume, Sharon Ikeazor, Emeka Nwajuiba, a serving Reps member and surprisingly, Rotimi Amaechi, a former minister of Transportation.

Unlike other nominees who were former federal lawmakers, Mr Amaechi was former speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly.

READ ALSO: LIVE UPDATES: Screening Of Ministerial Nominees By The Senate

Ministerial Screening: George Akume Asked To Take A Bow

The National Assembly’s Point of Order makes room for Senators returning based on the number of times elected, senators who have been members of House of Reps, Senators elected for the first time but does not recognize State House of Assembly.

But Senate President Lawan described the benefit given to Mr Amaechi as an extension to lawmakers from the state House of Assembly, and a beneficiary by chance.

“We have agreed on a policy on how we go about the screening of nominees, we agreed that any nominee with the legislative background will enjoy the privilege that we normally extend to such nominees.

“I can see this nominee is so clever that he emphasized that he’s been a speaker.”

However, Senator Danjuma Goje, representing Gombe Central read the senate rule and objected to the privilege and noted that the Senate rules do not extend the ‘take a bow’ to state lawmakers.

“I was a victim, when I came to this senate in 2011 as a former member of the House of Assembly and when I insisted that I had the cognate experience, I was told the order does not recognise House of Assembly, I don’t know whether we are changing these rules.”

Senator Lawan agreed that the privilege to state lawmakers is not in the rules, but asked the upper chamber to regulate themselves, even without things in the rule.

“We adopt this because we should extend this privilege to the House of Assembly, there is nothing wrong in that. The present nominee is only a beneficiary by chance.”

There was a brief rowdiness at plenary, but the Senate President explained that they are not doing it for Mr Amaechi, but he is benefitting because the senate said so before he came.

“Any person who passed through a legislative house should be a beneficiary of this policy,” he stated.

Aside from the six who took a bow, the senate screened a total of 10 ministerial nominees out of the 43.

They include; Uchechukwu Ogah, Adamu Adamu, Dr Ogbonaya Onu, and Olamilekan Adegbite.

Mr Lawan described the performance of all the nominees who appeared before the Senate as “impressive”.

He also announced that the exercise will continue on Thursday and listed those to be screened to include Sen. Tayo Alasoadura, Mustapha Shehuri, Retired Maj. Gen. Bashir Magashi, Niyi Adebayo and Timipre Slyva.

Also to be screened on Thursday are Mrs Ramatu Tijjani, Mohammed Abdullahi, and Sunday Dare.