By Ismaila Chafe
Abuja, Feb. 9, 2021 President Muhammadu Buhari says the rail line from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic will go a long way in boosting trade relations in the West African sub-region.
The president, who stated this at the groundbreaking ceremony of the rail project, virtually in Abuja on Tuesday, said it would also enhance the gains of the African Continental Free Trade zone.
President Buhari expressed optimism that the project when completed would specifically enhance socio economic activities in Kano, Katsina, Jigawa states and Maradi in Niger Republic.
He said: “The rail line traverses the major commercial and administrative centre of Kano and passing through other economic hubs of the country including Kazaure, Daura, Katsina and up to the border town of Jibiya and the Niger Republic city of Maradi. The cities of Jibiya and Maradi constitute a significant trading core between Nigeria and Niger Republic – a tradition dating back many centuries.
“This vital infrastructure line will establish an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport services between Northern and Southern regions of the country, reaching Nigerian southern ports of Lagos and Warri.
The project, when completed, would serve import and export of goods for Niger Republic and other countries in the sub-region through Nigerian ports.
“The country would earn revenue through expansion of trade and commerce, while the people of Niger Republic will benefit from ease of transportation logistics at affordable cost in their import and export business.
The connection to Niger Republic through rail will also foster Trans-Sahara trade and contribute to the expected gains in the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.”
According to the Nigerian leader, over 80 million Nigerians stand to benefit from the laudable project, which will also boost rail transportation connectivity between the Southern and Northern parts of the country as the rail line will be linked with the Lagos – Kano corridor.
This vital infrastructure line will establish an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport services between Northern and Southern regions of the country, reaching Nigerian southern ports of Lagos and Warri.
“The entire route encompasses territory inhabited by close to 80 million people across 10 states of the country. This project has a branch line to Dutse the capital of Jigawa state to open up this corridor which is endowed with vast resources.
“The Kano – Maradi rail line has been identified as a viable line that will significantly enhance the movement of passengers and freight to the hinterland especially raw materials from both agricultural and mineral resources for our industries,” he said.
President Buhari used the occasion to highlight some of the achievements his administration had recorded in the nation transportation sector.
He said: “I believe, when all these initiatives of our Administration are realized, the country would have overcome the infrastructural deficiency in the Transportation sector.
“Businesses will be able to take full advantage of availability of an affordable and effective transportation backbone that can transform industrial and economic activity to a higher level. I also enjoin our private sectors to invest and participate in the realization of these very promising economic opportunities.’’
He commended the construction company handling the project for supporting knowledge and technology transfer by investing in the establishment of a learning Institution for Transportation and Railway Science in Nigeria.
Naija247news reports that the Secretary to the Government of the federation, Boss Mustapha, the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari and the Minister of State-Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki joined the president at the Council Chamber where he presented his address, online.
Those at the venue of the event in Katsina were the governors of Katsina, Jigawa and Kano states as well as Gov. Zakari Umar of Maradi in Niger Republic.
Some ministers, including Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Information and Culture, and traditional rulers from Nigeria and Niger Republic also witnessed the event.