The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, says lack of adequate funding may slow down the pace of work and completion of the Kano-Kaduna railway project.
The minister made the observation, while inspecting works on the project in Kano on Friday.
Amaechi said: “I have never denied that we are having financial challenges and that is because of economic downturn.
“The Chinese are not funding the way they used to fund us and up till now, we are yet to conclude the loan for this project. So, we are funding this project from the budget.
“That is why I was sceptical about the completion and said if funding is available. However, we are putting pressure on all the necessary institutions that need to give us money.
“But currently, we fund it through the budget, we will approach the Ministry of Finance again to fund us within this period.’’
The minister said that based on the current pace of work and with adequate funds, the contractors would deliver the project for inauguration before May 2023.
He commended the CCECC and the TEAM on the quality of the project so far, urging them not to relent in their efforts to deliver a good job.
Amaechi underscored the importance of utilising local materials and manpower for the construction of the railway.
He said that the government was encouraging, not only the use of local materials but also passing all those kinds of jobs to the citizens.
“Therefore, we are part of the process, we are part of the benefits of this project, not just economic benefits but also part of the financial benefit.”
On equipment, the minister said it was agreed that the Chinese should bring in a lot of equipment for the construction of the railway.
He said this was to ensure availability of equipment for the project at all times and prevent the recurrence of what happened during the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line.
Amaechi stressed that the essence of the project was to ensure easy movement of passengers and cargoes, particularly cargoes.
He said that Kano was one of the most important economic hubs of the country, adding the project would facilitate the transportation of goods from Kano to other places.
“It will also create jobs; already the cost of land here won’t be the same. So the economic value of assets will increase after the construction.
“Also, like I always tell people, you can work in Abuja and take off from Kano; just like it is being done now in Kaduna.
“That way, you will reduce the cost of accommodations and those, who hitherto maintain two homes, can now live in Kano and go to work in Abuja,” he added.
On the motivation behind the rail project, Amaechi said it was the vision of President Muhammadu Buhari to connect the country via rail and his duty as minister of transport to implement it.
He said that it had been his pleasure to see that Nigerians could move and transport their cargoes from one place to another in the country.