Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Presidency, yesterday, countered the announcement by Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved $1.96 billion for the construction of a rail line to link Kano, Dutse, Katsina and Maradi in Niger Republic.
It explained that the construction would only get to a designated point at the border.
Amaechi had on Wednesday while briefing State House Correspondents at the 16th FEC meeting, told newsmen that FEC approved the project.
He had said: “The second one (approval) is the award of contract for the development of the proposed Kano-Katsina-Jibia to Matadi rail line in Niger Republic and to Dutse, the capital of Jigawa, for a total cost of $1,959,744,723.71, inclusive of 7.5% VAT.”
But in a tweet, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, via his verified Twitter handle, @GarShehu, yesterday, said the agreement was reached between Nigeria and Niger in 2015 for the Kano-Katsina-Maradi Corridor Master Plan (K2M).
He said both nation agreed to build a rail line to the “border town of Maradi.”
Maradi is the second largest city in Niger Republic and the administrative centre of Maradi Region and seat of the Maradi Department.
Shehu tweeted: “Nigeria isn’t building rail line into Niger but, only to the designated Border point.
“An agreement between Nigeria and Niger in 2015, coordinated by the Nigeria-Niger Joint Commission for Cooperation has a plan for “Kano-Katsina-Maradi Corridor Master Plan, (K2M)” as it is called.
“Going by this, the two nations would each build a rail track to meet at the border town of Maradi.
“Nigerian delegates to that meeting comprised officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Boundaries Commission, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Water Resources as well as those of Kano & Katsina states.
“The objective of the rail is the harnessing of raw materials, mineral resources and agricultural produce.
“When completed, it will serve domestic industries and play the role of a a viable transportation backbone to the West African subregion, starting with the neighboring Niger Republic for their export and import logistic chain.”