FG expresses commitment to completion of Kano – Maradi rail project

Maradi rail project

The Federal Government says it is committed to completion of 387 kilometer, Single – Track Standard Gauge Railway project running from Kano – Katsina in Nigeria through Jibiya to Maradi in Niger Republic.

Minister of Transportation, Said Alkali gave the assurance on Tuesday while meeting with a consortium of financial institutions who have expressed interest in providing funds towards the completion of the rail project in Abuja.

Receiving representatives of the Take-Out facilities Lenders for the project, Senator Alkali said the Kano -Maradi rail project represents the aspirations of the Federal Government to facilitate trade, and engender alternative mode of transportation and foster bilateral relations between the two countries.

The Director, Press and Public Relations in the Ministry, Olujimi Oyetomi in a statement on Tuesday reported that the Minister reaffirmed that government is fully committed to the completion of the rail project, which will boost the economy of Nigeria and the Niger Republic.

He therefore, assured the team that all the necessary documents and answers that could convince prospective financiers to release their funds for the project would be provided by his Management Team, comprising of the Permanent Secretary, the Director, Rail Transport Services, Director, Legal Services and the Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation, amongst others.

Alkali went further to assure the prospective investors of a promising return on investment as well as a guaranteed, secure environment on partnership with the transportation sector in Nigeria.

He pointed out that the role of transportation infrastructure in the country is aimed at reviving the economy, transforming it and placing it on a more sustainable and inclusive growth strategy.

The meeting which was at the instance of the consortium of banks is to enable these institutions build and get answers to their puzzles and inquiries, as part of the due diligence process.

Speaking at the interactive section, the Senior Vice President, Africa Finance Cooperation, Mohammed Abdul-Razaq disclosed that the consortium of banks consisting of the Africa Development Bank, Africa Export-Import Bank (AFREXIM), Development Bank of Southern Africa, African Finance Bank, Rand Merchant Bank and the China Construction Bank have indicated interest in providing the funds that will facilitate completion of the project within the proposed timeline.

According to Abdul-Razaq, the team as part of the due diligence process, has embarked on a series of interactive engagements with the Ministers of Finance, Environment, Mines and Steel Development and only just came back to Abuja after visitation to the site locations of the project to corroborate received reports.

Abdul-Razaq stated that for the investors to be able to commit their funds, they need to do due diligence and at the end of the mission, return to their respective offices, write credit reports and seek approvals.

Providing answers and assurances to some of the questions raised by the financiers, the Director, Rail Transport Services, Zira Finbarr stated that the Ministry of Transportation on behalf of the Federal Government entered into a bilateral agreement for the construction of a rail line into Niger Republic. He disclosed that the rail project is trans-national and planned to stretch to Algeria.

He further said that the buy-in of the country was solicited and the risk of Niger Republic rescinding on this agreement is at 0%.

He equally noted that the Ministry before commencement with the physical aspect of this project had through the Federal Ministry of Environment carried out an environmental social impact assessment and the ministry has been given the report and approval before work commenced.

According to him, “in Kano – Maradi, we also took into consideration, the people because government will have to do access roads from the rail line into the communities because we will not want to cut them off.”

Other issues of land compensation along the strip of rail corridor and the overpass have been addressed and underpass as well as the overpass to avert human and other interference, Finbarr assured have been captured in the design and some are already completed.

The Director, Legal Services, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Pius Oteh, to assuage puzzles relating to the possible exit of Niger Republic from the Economic Community of West African States disclosed that the impasse between Niger and the ECOWAS resulting to Nigeria closing its borders is being amicably resolved. Drawing an instance from the Russia-Ukraine war, Oteh stated that the Russia-Ukraine war has not affected the supply of gas from Russia through Ukraine to other parts of Europe, thus assuring the institutions that amidst an uprising between both countries, the rail linkage would not be severed as it serves the interest of both countries.

“If Niger pulls out of ECOWAS, we have a MoU stemming from bilateral agreement with Niger. So at the bilateral levels, Nigeria has a very effective relationship with Niger to the point that we have Nigeria/Niger Joint Commission. Both countries recognize the importance of that project so that pulling out would not affect anything.”

As regards the readiness of the Nigerian government to provide security along the rail corridors, the Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation, Engr. Fidet Okhiria said the Federal Government would install Digital security system on the Kano – Maradi Rail corridor.

According to him, the security system when established along the rail tracks will enable security personnel identify and respond when there is an impact on the rail line.