All is now set for the commencement of the Kano-Maradi standard gauge rail project, as the federal government has slated February 9th for the ground-breaking Ceremony.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, made this known in a statement on Sunday, through his media assistant, Taiye Edeni.
The Fact Nigeria reports that the 284km rail project had drawn criticisms from Nigerians, who argued that there are more economically-viable projects that could be embarked on within the country.
This was as they maintained that amidst paucity of funds, the project could bring possible debt burden upon the country.
The $1.959 billion rail project is being executed by Messrs Mota-Engil Nigeria Ltd, a Portuguese firm.
Amaechi said that the Kano-Maradi line is critical to the overall rail sector development in Nigeria, and the sub region, and therefore when completed, will represent the last section of the corridor that connects Lagos-Kano and subsequently to the Republic of Niger, through the border town of Maradi.
The Project which is a standard gauge railway line of about 284km traverses Kano-Dambatta-Kazaure-Daura-Mashi-Katsina-Jibiya-Maradi in Niger Republic.
The line has been designed to pass close to major cities, town and villages without dividing them to facilitate public transportation and to stimulate the development of the agricultural economy and manufacturing industries along the corridor as well reduce the cost development.
The project is planned to have a total of 15 stations including Maradi which comprises 2 main stations in Kano and Katsina, 3 medium stations in Kazaure, Daura and Jibiya, 3 small stations in Shagalle, Dambatta and Mashi, with other Halt stations at the Airport, Kunya Dube,Muduru, Daddara, Anoal Mata and Maradi.
The rail line which has a branch line to Kano-Dutse is important because of it potential in harnessing raw materials and agro products along the corridor.
“The project when completed will serve domestic industries and play the role of a viable transportation backbone, linking countries in the West Africa sub-region starting with the neighbouring Niger Republic for their import and export logistics chain.
“In the process, the volume of trade in the country will increase while promoting the realisation of Nigeria’s interest on the Africa Free Trade Single Market Area formulation.
“The railway will account for average freight carriage forecast of 1,043,980.5 tons annually in the first 10 years of operation within its short corridor and a forecast of average passenger traffic of 3,543,637.9 annually within the same period.
“A geometrical increase in this service is expected when it is linked to the South Nigeria port of Apapa, Tin-can Island and Warri is realised by the construction of Lagos-Kano and Abuja-Itakpe respectively to average forecast of 2.2Million tons annually and passenger traffic of average of 5.1million.”
The main agricultural crops grown in commercial quantity along the corridor are groundnuts, cassava, yam, potatoes, millet, maize, rice, beans, as food crops and livestock include cattle, sheep, goat and poultry.
The total population of the three states concerned by the new line which is Kano, Katsina and Maradi has 19,563,874 inhabitants in 2006 and was estimated at 22,166,543 in 2010, which by estimated annual growth rate of 2.7 percent will amount to 28,933,988 in 2020 which represents 14 percent of the total population of Nigeria.
The groundbreaking, which will be done by President Muhammadu Buhari, will be attended by the Minister of transportation of Niger, Governors, Ambassadors, Ministers, of both countries and other important stakeholders in the sector.