Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Saturday inaugurated the Wagon Assembly Plant at Kajola in Ifo council area of Ogun as part of efforts to boost the ongoing railway modernisation programme of the federal government.
Mr Osinbajo in his address said the development followed an agreement signed in March 2018 by the federal government with the Chinese rail contractor, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), for the establishment of the plant.
According to the vice president, the plant will subsequently produce rolling stock, wagon, spare parts and maintenance equipment needed for the various railway projects of the federal government across the country.
“This project will serve as a catalyst for national economic growth and development as enshrined in federal government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
“The citing of the plant here in Nigeria and the commitment to hiring Nigerians and Nigerian businesses affirms the president’s directive on executive order 5.
The executive order dwells on prioritising Nigerians and Nigerian businesses in the production and procurement of engineering projects and services.
”The plant will offer an important platform for technicians, artisans and others to gain specialised skills for the production and maintenance of rolling stock.
“This will spin up businesses across the country wherever rail network are in existence,” he said.
Mr Osinbajo noted that the railway system had gone beyond an alternative and comfortable mode of travelling, saying ” it holds the master key to transforming commerce in Nigeria and across the African continent”.
The vice president urged the management of the CCECC to move on quickly to the next phase of the project, which according to him, is the construction and assembling coaches and locomotives.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, in his remarks reiterated the federal government’s commitment to the transformation of the nation’s rail system.
He said the Kajola wagon assembly plant was the first of its kind in Nigeria.
According to him, after completion and commencement of production, the plant is expected to employ nearly 5,000 Nigerians.
The minister also announced plans by his ministry to optimise the Lagos/Ibadan rail project by extending it to the Apapa port for the efficient movement of cargo from the port to various destinations.
He said the measure would aid importation and exportation of goods and also ease traffic on Nigerian highways.
The state governor, Dapo Abiodun, who addressed journalists after the ceremony, commended the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for the project.
He said the project would enhance the capacity of Ogun being the gateway state to connect other places including Lagos and Ibadan cheaper and more efficiently.
” We will take advantage of the rail line and create industrial hubs, real estates opportunities and shopping centres to enable people to live in Ogun and work in the state or other places.
“We are already a spill–over state to Lagos state and so we will prepare to accommodate more overflows from Lagos,” he said.
Mr Abiodun assured that the state and its people would collaborate with the federal government to ensure the success of the project.