By Taiye Elebiyo-Edeni
President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated two locomotives and 10 standard gauge coaches in Kaduna, saying his administration is committed to strengthening the nation’s railway system in order to boost economic activities in the country.
Buhari also inaugurated the Kaduna Inland Dry Port.
He said the procurement of the locomotives and coaches was part of his administration’s resolve to vigorously pursue rail development in the country in line with 25-year national strategic railway master plan.
According to him, “Other supporting projects are the purchase of more locomotives, coaches, wagons, workshops and equipment for new standard rail lines by way of encouraging private sector participation in the railway sector”.
Buhari explained that it was on this basis that the administration was focused on creating conducive environment for private sector participation to strengthen commercial activities using railways systems and promote rapid economic activities.
“By improving the lives of the citizenry and promoting National integrity, our resolve is to promote railway systems to high class standard.
“Therefore, I am using this opportunity to appeal for the support of all relevant stakeholders especially the National Assembly and all development partners in realizing this objective.’’
On the Inland Dry Port, Buhari said the project would enhance economic activities, improve revenue generation and create direct employment.
“The port, when commissioned will provide an easy process for the exportation of farm produce from Kaduna and neighbouring states as well as landlocked countries,’’ the President emphasized.
NAN reports that a dry port is an inland inter modal terminal directly connected by road, rail and air to a sea port, and is usually operated as a centre for trans-shipment of sea cargo to inland destinations.
He said the Abuja-Kaduna rail line was a major achievement because it has met the needs of the masses.
He reiterated government commitment to linking all major commercial and production centres by rail for rapid social economic development and improving the quality of life of the citizens and improving the national integration.
“You may also recall that during the commissioning in July 2016, I reiterated our commitment to vigorously pursue rail development in Nigeria through the implementation of the 25 years strategic Railway Master Plan.
“ We are encouraging private sector participation in Railway with negotiation ongoing with the General Electric (GE) on the concessioning of the narrow gauge lines.
“We are moving forward to more efficient narrow gauge lines to be driven by the private sector, it’s on the basis of this, that we are creating a more conducive environment for private sector participation.
“By strengthening our legal and regulatory frameworks and we reassure Nigerians that we are committed in linking all commercial sector with railway which will improve the quality of life and bring about national integration.”
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said that the two locomotives and 10 coaches would resolve the high demand of passengers on the Abuja-Kaduna train service.
According to him, the commissioning is a clear demonstration of a functional transport system which is the administration mandate.
He said that the train was carrying 1,280 passengers on a round trip daily noting that these new coaches would help improve their services and some coaches will also be deployed to Warri-Itakpe Standard gauge line.
Amaechi said that with this new executive coaches, express train service will be introduced with only one stop at Kubwa station and the problem of racketeering on that route will be resolved.
He said that the Warri-Itakpe rail line would be completed in Sept. 2018.
He said work is progressing on the Lagos-Kano rail line.