Amaechi stated this on Thursday, Oct. 5 after updating President Buhari on the proposed and ongoing railway projects across the country including the Kano – Maradi (Niger Republic) rail project.
While addressing State House correspondents after the closed-door meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the minister said the President was pleased with developments in the transport sector.
He recalled that an approval had been given for the eastern flank of the railway modernisation “which has to do with from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri cutting across Aba, Owerri, Enugu, Umuahia to Makurdi, Abakiliki, Awka and Lafia down to Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and to Damaturu and ends at Borno.” He said:
“That is why I was summoned. Don’t forget that the president sleeps and wakes up thinking about our railways and if his BP will not rise, I must always see him and tell him how far we’ve progressed. Once he hears that progress is being made he feels happy.
“He is also very pleased with what we have done in terms of the narrow gauge; between now and December we should ensure efficiency in the narrow gauge.
“We are bringing in more locomotives; we are bringing in more coaches and wagons, to ensure efficiency in the narrow gauge.
“In terms of the narrow gauge, if not for a hitch, we would have commenced trucking cargo form Apapa seaport to Ebute-Metta-Lagos and take away the challenges we are having with that Apapa grid and bad road. That will happen before December.”
The minister announced that the Federal Government would take delivery of 17 new coaches and locomotives between now and December to boost rail transportation across the country. He stated that 10 of the locomotives were meant for Abuja- Kaduna rail line while the remaining seven would go to Itakpe – Warri rail project, which he said would be ready by June 2018.
“We are expecting 10 for Kaduna-Abuja axis and another seven, which will hopefully go to Itakpe – Warri because we believe that by June, that axis should also come alive,’’ he said.
The minister emphasised that the money was not available for the eastern railway project, but said the government was considering a Public-Private arrangement.
He further revealed that about 16 billion dollars was needed to actualise some of the Federal Government’s plans for the railway sector, especially the construction of two deep seaports in Bonny, Rivers State and Warri, Delta State; as well as the Port Harcourt Railway Industrial Park.
Amaechi disclosed that there were plans to also dredge the Calabar seaport, through Public Private Partnership (PPP). He expressed the hope that the problem of gridlock on the road leading to Apapa port in Lagos would be over by December.