President Buhari on Thursday inaugurated the commercial operations of Lagos-Ibadan railway project at the Mobolaji Johnson Railway Station, Ebute Metta, Lagos, describing the feat “as another milestone in the drive of this Administration to revitalize the railway system and establish it as a choice mode of transportation for both passengers and freight.”
Speaking while at the event, the President pledged that his administration would continue to prioritise the railway system as a transportation backbone that can transform industrial and economic activity in the country.
He noted that Lagos-Ibadan railway was an important rail corridor that would drive the economy of many states.
“This vital line establishes an end-to-end logistic supply chain in railway transport within its short corridor, Lagos – Ibadan, as goods to the hinterland would now be transported by rail directly from the Apapa port Quayside straight to the Inland Container Depot located in Ibadan from where it can be distributed to other parts of the country.
“In clear recognition of the challenges posed to our economic growth by absence of strong and effective infrastructure, we have in the rail sector, further to other ongoing railway infrastructure projects, embarked on the completion of the outstanding segment of the Lagos – Kano railway, which is Ibadan – Kano.
“The Lagos – Kano railway project when completed will link the Kano – Maradi line at Kano and a rail link from the Nigeria southern ports of Lagos to Maradi in Niger Republic will be achieved.
“The connection through rail would position Nigerian ports as the choice for import and export business of the people of landlocked Niger Republic.
“This would be beneficial to the economy through employment from new business opportunities and wealth creation.”
The President also expressed delight that his directive to the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Finance on reaching financial agreements with appropriate co-financiers to partner with the Federal Government for the development of the Ibadan – Kano railway was yielding results.
He noted that Ibadan-Kano project would have a connection to the Tin Can Island port as well as the West – East Coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar linking Onitsha, Benin, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba and Uyo.
“From the beginning of this administration, railway infrastructure development has been given the priority it deserves and various milestones have been reached, right from when the Abuja – Kaduna railway was flagged-off for commercial operation in 2016 to this Lagos – Ibadan railway project being commissioned today for full commercial operation,” he said.
Buhari commended the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, for his drive and tenacity in achieving the milestone recorded today, the President praised the “wonderful team in the Ministry” for a job well done.
The Minster of Transportation, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi speaking at the Inauguration commended the Chinese government through the China Exim bank for the loan that enabled the construction of the rail project.
He said “we hope that we will get money to be able to construct from ibadan to kano so that we can complete the track and make sure that business takes place.
“We have about three or four projects. This month, we will start Kano-Kaduna and then we will also start Port Harcourt to Maiduguri which also is CCECC and then Kano-Maradi.
“We got money from China Exim bank, we paid back. We did put pressure on CCECC and delivered on time. In terms of quality, what we have is of good” Amaechi stated.
Also speaking at the inauguration, the Chairman, Nigerian Railways Corporation (NRC), Alhaji Ibrahim Alhassan in his vote of thanks stated that “It is with great pleasure that | fully appreciate and welcome the Permanent Secretary, the Directors and other Staff of the FMoT who are essentially the home team of this project” he stated.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Governor of Ogun state, Dapo Abiodun, the Governor of Oyo, Seyi Makinde, the Governor of Ekiti state and many Ministers and other top government officials graced the occasion.