From: Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, on Tuesday, disclosed that the Lagos-Kano rail line as well as the Lagos-Port Harcourt standard gauge would start running before the end of 2017.
This was just as he expressed satisfaction with the state of work at the Kaduna inland dry port which he said was set for commissioning soon.
He disclosed this during an inspection of the port in kaduna in company of Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai.
He added that the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was to establish a safe and efficient transport system that will further boost economic activities across the country.
The minister also informed that plans were underway to procure additional 20 locomotive trains for cargo services from Lagos to Kano and Lagos to Port Harcourt.
The Kaduna inland dry port project was designed to decongest the seaports and bring shipping and port services closer to importers and exporters in the hinterlands.
The port which has the capacity to handle 29,000 containers per annum when commissioned would serve as a port of origin and final destination which means it will have the status of international port, including customs, immigration, port health officials, as well as government security agencies.
The minister explained that by the time the rail projects were completed, they would largely help importers and exporters of goods to transport them through the rail lines, thereby saving cost, time and further guaranteeing safety of their goods.
“We are doing everything possible to create jobs and whatever the federal government needs to do to get the port running will be done.
“The rail line will soon start running before the end of the year, which will be used to deliver goods at the port.
“Everything is set for commissioning because we have the land, warehouse and all but we want to wait for the completion of the roads.
“We want to wait for more activities in the dry port before we get the President to commission it.
“I have visited Jos and they are doing a good job and they promised to be ready by June. I have visited Kaduna and what I have seen is commendable,” he said.
The minister commended the efforts and various contributions of Kaduna State government and solicit the government’s contribution towards ensuring that roads are in perfect shape.
On his part, Governor el-Rufai informed that the project was inherited from the previous administration and assured that the state government would provide the necessary infrastructure needed to see to the effective take-off of the port upon commissioning.
He said that the government would fix the roads leading to the port and create more exits to avoid possible congestion usually experienced at the Apapa port.
“We inherited this project from the previous administration and we thought it was a project worthy of our support and we did everything we could to make sure it works.
“We tried to do whatever we could to ensure that the infrastructure that is required to make the project a reality is done.
“The road will be reconstructed with concrete pavement and we realised that we do not want to replicate the problem of Apapa port because it only has one exit and one entry”, El-Rufai said.
The governor, however, urged the company to employ the indigenes and talented youths of the state to reduce the challenge of unemployment.
“We want to support this work because 85 per cent of the population of Kaduna State consists of young people below the age of 35 and our biggest challenge; and our economic policy focus on creation of jobs.
“So, I appeal to you to make the best use of the facility, The Kaduna State Government will be a partner and we will direct all the companies that we are attracting to Kaduna to use this facility.
He appealed that the local people should be used for them to benefit from the project rather than “importing people from other states. Kaduna State has talents. We have young people here and we expect you to give preference to them,” he added.
Speaking earlier, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, Mr. Hassan Bello, appreciated the state government and the Federal Government for their support for the project.
He said that among all states where inland dry port was located, Kaduna gave the highest support in ensuring that the project was completed.
Bello, however, appealed to the state government to construct accessible roads and provide proper infrastructure for the importation and exportation of cargoes.
”We are committed to make the port a modern port and in compliance with international standard to ensure proper regulations, we will also ensure that appropriate cargo clearance equipment will be deployed while human and vehicular traffic within the port will be avoided as much as possible,” he stressed.