By Dipo Olowookere
Two contracts worth $1.5 billion have been signed by the Federal Government with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation for the construction and modernisation of rail lines in different parts of the country.
These are the Kano-Kaduna Segment 3 of the Lagos-Kano rail modernisation project with a contract sum of $1.68 billion, and the Calabar-Port Harcourt Segment 1, which extends to Onne Deep Seaport of the coastal rail project at a cost of $3.4 billion.
According to the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, who signed on behalf of the FG, the segmentation of the same contract in line with its resolutions with the China-Exim Bank.
Mr Amaechi said the government would release its counterpart funds as quickly as possible, adding that with the cooperation of the China-Exim Bank, the projects would be completed in November 2018.
In a statement issued by his Ministry on Thursday, Mr Amaechi noted that he has “assured Mr President that we need to complete these projects in two years.”
Managing Director, CCECC, Mr Jack Li, assured the Federal Government of his company’s readiness to complete the projects in two years as this would benefit the travelling public.
He added that with the completion of the standard-gauge Abuja-Kaduna rail project, Nigeria had entered a new era in the transportation sector.
On Monday, the China Railway Construction Corporation announced that it had won a $1.851bn contract to construct the Kano city light rail, as its directors had received a provisional letter of award from Nigeria.
The CRCC had stated that the rail, with a total length of 74.3km, was expected to travel at a speed of 100km per hour.
Rail transportation received a boost in Nigeria on July 26 this year when President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the Abuja-Kaduna commercial train operation after a series of postponements.
The modernisation phase of the project had commenced with the signing of the contract for the construction of Abuja (Idu) to Kaduna (Rigasa) rail line in 2009.
Buhari had said the rail line would significantly enhance and provide affordable and safe movement of passengers and freight between the Federal Capital Territory and Kaduna State.
He noted that the train operation would also serve as a major catalyst for industrialisation and generation of employment.