- Minister assures viable inland waterways for inter-state barge operations
The Federal Government has revealed plans to connect every state capital via railway as part of its 25-year Rail Modernization Plan.
Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Engr. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo revealed this while speaking with journalists at the ongoing 2022 Ministerial Retreat in Uyo, Awka Ibom State.
In a response to a question on how to deliver the National Development Plan 2021-2025 as regards transportation, the Minister said: “The plan that we have under the 25 years Railway Modernization Plan is to connect every state capital by rail”.
Meanwhile, he gave assurances that the federal government is working assiduously to ensure that the nation’s inland waterways are developed to ensure seamless movement of cargoes by barges across coastal states.
“We want to make sure that inland waterways transportation is developed in such a way that movement of containers and other cargoes by barges from Lagos through the intra-coastal routes to hinterlands will become the new normal,” Sambo said.
According to the Minister, in a bid to achieve this there will be a need to clear the waterways and fortunately, the Ministry has found a company that is ready to do commence operations in November, this year.
“We have a dream in the Ministry to move containers from Marina in Lagos to Onitsha in Anambra State and even to Baru in Niger State. That will entail channelization and channel management of the routes from Lagos through the intra-coastal routes to land rivers up to Onitsha along the river Niger up to Baru,” the Minister informed.
On the issue of the railway line that should run from Lagos to Calabar, the Minister said what is stalling it is funds as the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), contractor handling the project is unable to provide the 85% of its counterpart funding while Nigeria is to provide 15%.
He, however, gave the assurance that the Ministry has identified an investor that is willing to provide the funds and the Ministry has opened talks on how to share the job between the investor and CCECC the initial contractor.
On the importance of the coastal line, Sambo said “The coastal line is a very important line because it connects all the port cities of Nigeria. If you connect all the port cities by rail, you will then be able to open up the Eastern Ports as well so that goods that come from the ports will naturally go upland”.