Despite the controversy trailing Kano-Maradi standard gauge railway lines, the Federal Government, yesterday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mota-Engil Group on the construction of the US$1.959 billion project.
While Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, signed on behalf of the Federal Government, the Managing Director, Mota- Engil, Antonio Gvoea, signed on behalf of the contracting firm. The new railway corridor will run through Kano, Jigawa and Katsina and through Niger territory as far as Maradi.
The statement issued by the Director. Press & Public Relations, Eric Ojiekwe, said other cities that will be affected by the rail line in Nigeria are Danbatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina and Jibiya.
The 283.750 kilometre rail line besides developing freight and passenger transport as it will be integrated with road transport, would make great contribution to the local economy as well as an important development in the social sector. The project duration is for 36 months and the contract type is engineering, procurement and construction. Meanwhile, Amaechi has said the inauguration of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line had been put on hold due to upsurge of COVID-19 in the country.
The minister, who disclosed this in Abuja, said over 60 staff on project site have been infected while trying to complete the project.
“First let us admit that over 60 of our staff, not ministry of transport staff, but the staff working on the rail project have been infected by COVID-19. Luckily nobody has died and I pray nobody will die, but you see the kind of sacrifice everybody is making to get the rail to function.
“They are people sacrificing their lives to get to that point, we are of the view when we made that decision that Nigeria will not say 2020 was a bad year, so remove one year and add another year to Buhari administration.”
He said timeline for inauguration of the project will depend on COVID-19.
“If COVID-19 stop today or reduces we will commission the project.”
Amaechi further stated that the train services on all route might stop if passengers do not adhere to COVID-19 protocol.