In a bid to ensure a speedy completion of the ongoing railway modernization projects across the country, the Federal Government is engaging with the Chinese government in bilateral talks to secure funding.

The Minister of Transportation, Said Alkali, disclosed this during a tour with members of the National Assembly committees on land transportation and oversight function along the ongoing Kano/Kaduna and Abuja/Kaduna rail lines.

The minister expressed satisfaction with the level of work but acknowledged challenges with funding. He said that the President has directed the Vice President to engage President Xi in a bilateral discussion on the financing of the Ibadan to Abuja and Kaduna to Kano segments.

He said: “The President is desirous in ensuring that these projects are completed and being put into use because transportation is an enabler of economic growth and a gateway to the nation’s economy. It is, of course, one of the eight priority areas of the present administration.

“The president has directed the Vice president to engage President Xi in a bilateral discussion on the financing of Ibadan-Abuja and Kaduna-Kano rail projects. So far, Kaduna-Kano has been released. We are just trying to cascade the final stage for the drawdown of the loan so that they will have the financing. That of Ibadan to Abuja is also under very serious engagement with the Chinese government”.

He said the funding for the Kaduna to Kano segment has been released, while the financing for the Ibadan segment is also under discussion with the Chinese government.

He further stated that the ministry is taking stringent measures to protect the nation’s rail infrastructure from vandals.

According to Alkali,”Nigerian Railway Corporation are working hard to ensure that these vandals do not destroy our properties.

‘We are deploying so much major surveillance in conjunction with the security agencies to ensure that these properties are not allowed to be vandalized”.

While Speaking, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Adamu Aliero, said the tour was an exercise undertaken by a joint committee of both the House of Representatives and Senate Committee on Land Transportation to inspect the construction of the rail line between Kaduna and Kano.

Senator Aliero however pointed out the issue of funding, which he said the committee intends to discuss with the Debt Management Office, the Minister of Finance, the Attorney General of the Federation, and the Minister of Transportation to find a way forward.

“We will do whatever is necessary to ensure that this project is completed on time,” he said. “We will lobby our colleagues in the National Assembly to ensure that this project does not suffer from inadequate funding. I would like us to speak more on funding because it has been the major challenge of this project.”

He commended the government for continuing the project it inherited and for completing the Lagos to Ibadan segment. He also noted that containers are now being transported from Lagos to Kano.

He added that the National Assembly is considering legislation that would make vandalism a criminal offense with severe penalties, including the death penalty for the criminals.

“If possible, any vandal caught sabotaging public infrastructure, the punishment should attract the death penalty. Probably if that happens, it will go a long way in reducing vandalization drastically.

“You see, it is very unfortunate that it is not only the rail line that has been vandalized. As you rightly know, power installations oil and gas installations, and bridges are been vandalized” he stated.

On her part, a member of the House of Representatives Committee on Land Transportation, Hon. Blessing Onuh, highlighted the importance of railway transportation to the growth and development of the nation. She emphasised the need for adequate funding to complete the project on time.

“We have also resolved between ourselves, the Senate and the House, to go back and discuss further on how we can review the contract and see how we can install anti-theft mechanisms to stop people or vandals from vandalizing the existing tracks that we have” She stated.


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