FG: Why rail project to Niger Republic is necessary

Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, says the proposed railway line from Kano to Maradi, a border town in Niger, will help grow Nigeria’s economy.

In his New Year speech, President Muhammadu Buhari announced that were negotiations for the construction of a rail line from Kano to Maradi.

But this was greeted with wide criticisms.

Speaking with journalists on Thursday in Abuja, Amaechi said Chad and Niger have abandoned Nigeria and gone to countries like Benin Republic because they have infrastructures such as rail lines and deep sea port to import their goods.

The minister lamented that Nigeria is the only country in West Africa that does not have a single window in clearance of goods at the port.

He said the corruption in the system made it impossible for Nigeria to adopt the single window.

“Currently, Niger Republic, Chad and others have abandoned the Nigerian market. They do not use our seaports again,” he said.

“They go to countries like Benin Republic and they are growing the economy of those people and we do not have deep seaports in Nigeria. Benin Republic is the first to build a deep seaport in Nigeria.

“Nigeria is the only country in West Africa without a single window which allows the clearance of goods on the same day of arrival. Nigerians are now importing through Benin Republic, Lome and Ghana because they have a single window.

“The huge corruption in the system has made it impossible for us to adopt the single window. It is this government that is trying to this and for the past two years, this has been impossible.

“We are not competitive for two reasons. Our Police checkpoints from Lagos to Kano, Kano to Maradi. If we are going to be competitive like others, then we must have the same infrastructures that they have. With trains, there are no checkpoints thereby making the movement of people and goods faster than the road. Also, Maradi is just a border town not like it is deep into the town.

“The Niger government is not contributing to the project and they do not need to do so. We have to also provide the same infrastructure that makes them go to other countries for business. Those countries already have the access and that is why Niger can go there go there for business.”

Amaechi said the transportation ministry has been able to curb ticket racketeering on the Abuja-Kaduna.

He added that the airports across the countries were well maintained and that the rail project has created over 200,000 temporary jobs.