Nigeria’s federal and Kano state governments are in separate negotiations with the China EXIM Bank for multi-billion dollar loans to execute two rail projects.
While the federal government is negotiating for a loan of $1.2 billion for a new Kano-Kaduna rail line, the state government has asked the bank for 85 percent of the $1.85 billion it needs for an intra-city rail project.
This was revealed at the weekend during a visit by the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, to the Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje.
Mr. Amaechi said that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the construction of the Kano – Kaduna railway.
He said negotiation with China EXIM Bank on the project was expected to end this year to enable the construction begin.
“I think the president is doing that because the economy of Kano is also large in the country and between Kano and Lagos, we have about a total of 30 million tonnes of freight, and that will help in conveying some of them to Abuja, while we extend the construction to Lagos,” he said.
The minister further revealed plans to put more locomotives on the Lagos – Kano narrow gauge rail before June.
“We are trying to bring in about 100 locomotives to move between Lagos – Kano – Funtua and Port Harcourt – Gombe”.
The activities, he told the governor, would greatly impact on Kano and the national economy.
Mr. Amaechi commended the government of Kano state for embarking on the construction of several new roads and other infrastructure despite the challenging economic conditions in which some states could not pay salaries of workers. He said the efforts of the Ganduje administration were very encouraging.
He also praised the governor on his role as chairman of the All Progressives Congress Campaign Council for last year’s re-run elections in Rivers state. He said Mr. Ganduje’s leadership gave the APC the courage to confront the Peoples Democratic Party in the state.
In his remarks, Mr. Ganduje acknowledged the importance of the rail project and disclosed that his administration was also fine-tuning plans to begin the Kano intra-city light rail project.
He said the $1.85 million project would cover four routes, terminating at Bata Roundabout near the Kano central business district.
The governor said 85 percent of the project cost would also be sourced from the China EXIM Bank.
“The rail project would save our roads and improve movement of goods and services in Kano, which is the commercial nerve center of Northern Nigeria, and parts of West Africa”, the governor enthused.