The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has said that the Federal Government needs over 50.9 billion dollars in the next five years to develop transportation infrastructure.
Amaechi said this while fielding question at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum on Tuesday in Abuja.
“We need over 50.9 billion dollars in the next five years to develop infrastructure and 50 billion dollars is not a joke.
“One of the infrastructure we are trying to develop is the railway infrastructure; the president has kindly agreed that he will fund it because the contract was awarded by Obasanjo, the former president; he awarded the contract for Lagos to Kano.
“President Jonathan awarded the contract for Lagos to Calabar, what the president has agreed to do is to fund it; he said can we fund the ones we have already awarded; no more awards until we have developed the ones we have awarded.
“So we are focusing on the Lagos to Kano railway and the Lagos to Calabar rail line.
“If you look at the communities surrounding this rail line; Lagos to Kano will start from Lagos to Ibadan; it will impact on so many sectors of the economy including housing; people who ordinarily will not be able to pay for house rent in Lagos can live in Ibadan, can live in Ogun and come to work in Lagos.’’
He said that if all the infrastructures required were provided, the number of persons, number of activities, the volume of trade, the volume of goods (cargoes) to be transported would be unimaginable.
The minister said that addressing the issue of transportation infrastructure was essential but he expressed regret that the harsh economy had imposed limited funding on the government.
On the insinuation by some Nigerians that truck owners were sabotaging the rail transport development, Amaechi dismissed it and said that funding constraint was the reason.
He said that the rail line from Lagos to Kano would cost about 8.2 billion dollars while the rail lines from Lagos to Calabar would cost 11.97 billion dollars, adding that the volume of funding for railways was about 20 billion dollars.
He said that the Abuja to Kaduna railway was virtually completed as the coaches had been purchased while the locomotive would be ready by August.
“If you go by official market, 20 billion dollars will give you about four trillion naira and if you go by the parallel market, it will give you about six trillion naira.
“If you drop that kind of money in our economy, you will go to sleep because the economy will boom and be buoyant.’’
“We have bought the coaches but the locomotive is not ready; but hopefully, it will be ready in August; we want to put these coaches on a track before the locomotive will arrive.’
“There has been an agreement with the company that constructed the locomotives to lend us their own locomotives.
“We need to invite the company that constructed the coaches so that they can hook the coaches to the locomotive; they promised to come but we have not seen them.’’