From Amechi Ogbonna, Sokoto
To facilitate cheaper and faster movement of goods and persons from the North West to other parts of the country, the Federal Government yesterday, promised to link Sokoto and Yola in Adamawa states to its ongoing Kano – Katsina- Maradi rail line.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who dropped the hint in Sokoto during a presentation at a facility tour of BUA Cement factory in the state, said the planned connection would facilitate the movement of industrial and commercial goods as well as persons from the North West and North East to other parts of the country.
This, he said, was being done to reduce the cost of transportation to leverage the massive price cut on building materials and goods, including cement.
Explaining the rationale behind Federal Government’s plan to link Sokoto State, in particular, to the international rail line, the minister said:
“The Sokoto plant is the first cement plant in Nigeria to use Liquefied Natural Gas to generate 50MW of power, thereby replacing coal in its kiln.
“I am sure when the AKK gas pipeline project is completed, it will drastically reduce the time and cost of transporting gas, which is currently being trucked from Port Harcourt to the plant. At least 20 trucks of LNG are brought here daily from Port Harcourt. Imagine the costs and the logistic challenges involved in this.”
He, however, listed the conditions that have made BUA Cement to flourish, especially since 2015 when the Muhammadu Buhari Administration assumed office to include the granting of Pioneer Status, the ban on importation of cement, government’s divestment from the cement industry and the backward integration policy of government.
Mohammed noted that leveraging these conditions, BUA Cement has recorded a 300 per cent production raise between 2015 and 2022, from 3.5 million Tonnes per annum in 2015 to 11 million tonnes presently with the Sokoto plant alone operating at over 90 per cent of installed capacity. “
He said: “Because of its location, which is just 100 kilometers to Niger Republic, the plant exports to Niger and Burkina Faso, thus earning Nigeria the much needed forex”.
The minister noted that BUA only exports excess products especially during the rainy season when local demand is low.
Other facts according to him, include the company’s year round production cycle that enables the loading of between 250 and 270 trailers per day.
“The 3 million tonnes per annum line (IV) of the BUA Cement facility that we have just visited was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in January this year, and takes the combined installed capacity of the factory’s lines 2,3 and 4 to 5 million tonnes per annum.