Posted by By Charles Ozoemena on
ABUJA — TOWARDS constructing a standard Gauge railway line running from Lagos to Kano, President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday directed.....
ABUJA — TOWARDS constructing a standard Gauge railway line running from Lagos to Kano, President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday directed Minister of Transport, Abiye Sekibo, to produce the actual cost of the project expected to gulp billions dollars.
Only on Monday, the National Council of State met in Abuja, endorsing the railway project and advising that the sum of $1 billion be taken from a Chinese loan to commence the project.
Considering the proposal at its weekly meeting, the Federal Executive Council FEC presided by President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday began deliberation on whether the rail system to be adopted should be single track, two-way single tracks or just to do a single track now and reserve a space for another track in future.
Addressing State House Correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, Sekibo assured that his Ministry would present the cost implications of each of the options as directed by the President
He said that the rail line which would be a complete new track will run 36 speed trains, at 150km per hour daily and haul 10.5 million tonnes of goods yearly while a double track will haul 40 million tonnes of goods.
“We should be able to run 36 trains per day either way from Lagos to Kano and back. 10.5 million tones of goods would be moved per annum on a single track and on a double track, 40 million tones of goods per annum. For multiplier effect, it would promote the new areas of diversification like the solid minerals mining, reduce amount of agricultural losses around the country, people would be able to know Nigeria better, there would be increased capacity-building amongst others”, he said.
The construction and operations of the standard gauge, which is 1,435 mm wide, across the country, he said, would be managed through a Public-Private-Partnership based on design-build-maintain agreement. Although no private organisations have been engaged for this purpose at the moment, he said that the first phase of the contract will be broken into Ibadan-Ilorin (200km); Ilorin-Minna (270km); Minna-Kaduna and Kano (360k) and Minna- Abuja and Kaduna (305km).
"This phase is expected to be completed in 36 months and after which the rest of the rail system will be similarly upgraded”, he said.
His further clarified: “we have no intention that the new railway system would be run by Government. There are new ways of managing trains. We are looking at Public Private Partnership (PPP) for the operation of the rail line. What the Federal Government is doing right now is a Design, Build and Maintain contract.
"But it is working with the Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) to get an operator of rail line who would be responsible for the running of the train.
“We will get the best hands possible from anywhere in the world. Someone that has a track record in running the railway system. The new rail system would as much as possible follow the present right of way of the rail line”, Sekibo added.
The Transport Minister explained that the new rail tracks will retain the existing national rail network “except for straightening unnecessary and dangerous curves that could involve blasting through hills and mountains or building new bridges.”
The original idea of just rehabilitating the current narrow gauge rail network he disclosed was abandoned after expert analysis proved that it would cost just about the same as building a new modern standard gauge network.
Council also awarded contract worth N183.11 million to rehabilitate the water supply to Tin Can Island Port in Lagos to meet the obligation stipulated in international law on the provision of water in all ports in the world, he disclosed.
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