The Federal Government reports that it approves the economic and commercial advantages
of extending rail construction from Lagos-Kano-Katsina to Marradi in the Niger Republic.
The clarification was given on Friday by the Minister of Information
and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, when he appeared on Nigerian TV.
“Live program of the
Authority (NTA),” Good Morning Nigeria.
The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) in Abuja monitored
a programme concentrating on ‘Nigeria at 60: Matters Arising’.
In particular, the Minister stated that the rail extension is intended for Nigeria to benefit economically
from the import and export of the landlocked countries of the Niger Republic, Chad and Burkina Fasso.
Mohammed stated that, contrary to some commentators’ misinformation on the railway extension
project, the decision was taken in the economic interest of the country.
NAN claims that some Nigerians challenged the logic behind borrowing
too much from Nigeria to finance a neighboring country’s infrastructure.
The Minister, however, explained: “I think there has been a lot of disinformation and total lack of information over that linking of Lagos, Kano, Katsina railway to Marradi”.
“The wisdom behind it is that Niger, Chad Burkina Faso are all landlocked meaning that they do not have access to the sea.
“What this means is that most of their imports and exports have to go through neighbouring countries’ seaports like Cotonou in the Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana.
Since we do not have a road infrastructure that will enable the Republic of Niger to use our
seaports, we believe that with the rail link, we will be able to take over their imports and exports.
“The simple reason, therefore, is to strengthen the economy of Nigeria,” he said.
Mohammed explained further: “For now, Niger Republic used seaport of Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana and the exporters go through the stress, challenges and time of being on the road from Cotonue, Lome or Accra to their country.
“But when you look at the distance by rail by the time we link them from Katsina to Marradi, it will be easier for us to take over the business.
“There is nothing like territorial expansion, it is purely economic, we are taking advantage of proximity and efficiency of rail system”.
The Minister further clarified that the distance from Jibia, the border town of Nigeria with the Niger Republic,
to Marradi is a few kilometers, and that the citizens of both border towns have existing business relationships.
Before going to town to misinform the public, he admonished
opponents of government policies and actions to always seek clarification.
Mohammed also said that the government will continue to participate in further
debates in order to inform the public about its policies, initiatives and decisions.
NAN recalls that on 23 Sept. the Federal Executive Council approved over $1,959 billion
for the construction in the Niger Republic of the railway line from Kano to Marradi.
Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transport, who announced this to State House correspondents, said that the railway
line planned to take off from Dutse in Jigawa, Katsina and Jibia will terminate in MarradI.
Source: THE GUARDIAN NEWS