By Dipo Olowookere
In order to achieve a rapid industrial and economic transformation, President Muhammadu Buhari has said he would continue to prioritise the railway system in the country.
Mr Buhari made this known on Thursday when he inaugurated the commercial operations of the Lagos-Ibadan railway project at the Mobolaji Johnson Railway Station, Ebute Metta, Lagos.
“This vital line establishes an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos – Ibadan, as goods to the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa port Quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country.
“In clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by the absence of strong and effective infrastructure, we have in the rail sector, further to other ongoing railway infrastructure projects, embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos – Kano railway, which is Ibadan – Kano.
“The Lagos – Kano railway project, when completed, will link the Kano – Maradi line at Kano and a rail link from the Nigeria southern ports of Lagos to Maradi in the Niger Republic will be achieved.
“The connection through rail would position Nigerian ports as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic.
“This would be beneficial to the economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation,” the President at the commissioning witnessed by Governors of the South West region, a few Ministers, lawmakers and other persons.
President Buhari described the rail project “as another milestone in the drive of his administration to revitalise the railway system and establish it as a choice mode of transportation for both passengers and freight.”
He commended the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, for his drive and tenacity in transforming the railway system in the country.
Mr Buhari expressed delight that his directive to the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance on reaching financial agreements with appropriate co-financiers to partner with the federal government for the development of the Ibadan – Kano railway was yielding results.
He noted that the Ibadan-Kano project would have a connection to the Tin Can Island port as well as the West-East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.
“From the beginning of this administration, railway infrastructure development has been given the priority it deserves and various milestones have been reached, right from when the Abuja–Kaduna railway was flagged-off for commercial operation in 2016 to this Lagos–Ibadan railway project being commissioned today for full commercial operation,” he said.