The flagging off of the construction of the Kano-Kaduna railway project as well as the commissioning of a three-layer bridge in Kano City by President Muhammadu Buhari in Kano recently were ample demonstration of the commitment of the Buhari and Ganduje governments to restore Kano to its glorious era as the centre of commerce in the West African sub-region.
The rail project is the third segment of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge railway modernisation project. The first segment (Abuja-Kaduna) and the second segment (Lagos-Ibadan) were inaugurated for commercial use in July 2016 and June 2021, respectively.
Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony in Kano, Buhari said the railway station is strategically located adjacent to the Dala Inland Dry Port in Kano. The president said his administration recognises rail transportation as a potent economic driver and as such, has accorded railway infrastructure development the greatest priority.
“The take-off of construction activities on this segment of Lagos-Kano vividly represents the commitment of this administration in the revival of the Nigerian railway system to reduce the deficiency in our transportation infrastructure and drive effective and more efficient transportation of passengers and freight within the country,” Buhari said.
“This project is crucial to the establishment of a supply chain in railway transport within its corridor, Kano-Kaduna-Abuja, as it links the major commercial cities of Kano and Kaduna to the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. This railway connection, when completed, will establish the ports in Lagos, as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic.
“This would positively drive our economies through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation. The federal ministry of transportation and ministry of finance are working to engage co-financiers to conclude financial agreements for the development of the Ibadan-Kano line and further increase the bankability of the project.
“The railway line will be linked to the second port in Lagos, the Tin Can Island port. It is also expected that the dry inland port on these routes will be activated. The ports can now receive imports directly from the international market as ports of destination.”
In his remarks, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the proposed mega-railway station at Zawachiki in Kano would be the biggest train station in Nigeria when completed.
“The project will improve the standard of living within this corridor, create employment…we will not employ anything less than 20,000 workers on this route. It will also promote trade. In the long term, the railway will help decongest the Lagos port complex and increase efficiency and as well as further increase the viability of the inland dry port located in Ibadan, Kaduna and Kano. The Ibadan-Abuja (railway project) will link the seaports to Maradi, Niger Republic, which I believe will greatly boost trade between the two countries and foster economic development.”
Ameachi also hinted that the federal government would soon construct another railway that will link Sokoto-Kebbi-Zamfara to the national railway network. “Currently, we are awaiting the national assembly for the approval of the loan facility to continue the work from Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri. The work traverses Port-Harcourt, Aba Umuahia, Enugu, Markurdi, Lafia, Jos, Kafanchan-Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Damaturu, Gasua, and then Borno.”
President Buhari, who also commissioned a three-layer bridge in the city, constructed by the Ganduje administration to alleviate excruciating traffic hold-up on a major road crossing beside the state secretariat, called for imbibing the culture of completing projects of importance in order to save time and cost overruns without minding which administrations began those projects.
Speaking in commendation of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje during a courtesy call on the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, in Kano, the president said the completion of projects started by his predecessors was a sign of strength and good leadership on the part of the governor.
The president said he was glad with the many projects the governor is putting in place, adding that this is the only way to justify the resources that are being managed on behalf of the people.
Ganduje in his remarks expressed the gratitude of the government and people of Kano for the care and love lavished by the president as manifested by key appointments as well as the many ongoing federal projects, including the Kano-Kaduna modern railway project, which construction the president kicked off in the city.
Emir Aminu Ado Bayero welcomed the president to the palace which he said has always served as his home. He commended the president for carrying out so many infrastructure projects in the state and across the nation in spite of the global economic meltdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, but urged that more attention be paid to the problems of security, poverty and food inflation.
It is instructive that the Kano-Kaduna rail project, which is segment of the Trunk A rail project in the country, is an important part of the West African railway network. The 15 ECOWAS states are committed to a subregional railway network. It is hoped that it will connect to the Niger Republic railway through the Kano-Maradi rail standard gauge rail line which construction the president kick-started a few months ago.
We, therefore, commend the Buhari administration for undertaking the rail project which has the potential to accelerate the economic development of not just Kano state and restore its commercial status but also foster the industrialisation of the entire North, Nigeria and the West African sub-region.