The Federal Government’s focus on railway and seaport development is a necessity to drive the nation’s economy, according to the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi.
Amaechi stated this at the virtual 15th Annual Kaleidoscope Global Business Conference and Awards hosted by the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York on Saturday.
“Many Nigerians have asked why the construction of railways.
“Eighty per cent of the cargoes we have in Nigeria are mostly imported, because the Nigerian economy is yet to generate enough production.
“However, the president is of the view that if we must produce, we must have infrastructure that enables that production, hence the focus on transportation, power and works,” he said.
The minister said although the railway project had started before the President Muhammadu Buhari, the nation’s seaports were not included in the design.
He stated that one of the first things the administration did was to rework the plan to link the rail network to seaports across the country.
“So, we started with the Apapa seaport. We are working there now and I believe by December, we should conclude the Lagos-Ibadan rail line extension into the port.
“We then added the Warri Seaport, the Calabar seaport and Tin Can Island. We are making sure that all of them include seaports,” Amaechi said.
According to him, contract for the 386km rail line from Kano to Maradi in the Republic of Niger will be awarded on Wednesday.
He added that contract award for the 1,500km eastern rail line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri would follow on Sept. 30.
The minister highlighted other rail line projects in the country, including Abuja to Itakpe, and Itakpe to Warri, which he said had been completed.
He said the Warri line would also be extended to the Warri seaport being developed by the federal government.
Amaechi also highlighted the government’s seaport digitalisation programme, which he said would be completed in 2021.
Mr Gurjit Singh, former Indian Ambassador to Germany, Indonesia and the African, described Nigeria as the giant of Africa.
Singh, who is the Chairman of the CII Task Force on Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, said the Nigerian rail sector had the potential to drive the nation’s development as was the case in India.
He urged Nigeria to take advantage of the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor initiative to access public private partnership funding for its infrastructure projects.
Organised by U.S.-based Kaleidoscope Business Project, the event brought together Nigerian state governors, ministers, business executives and prospective foreign investors.
The participants included Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau, Douye Diri of Bayelsa, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, Samuel Ortom of Benue and AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara,
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, and the Minister of State for Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah, also participated.
They took turns to highlight the investment opportunities that abound in their respective states and sectors in addition to the investment facilitation and security measures in place.
Welcoming the participants, the Consul General of Nigeria in New York, Mr Benaoyagha Okoyen, said the conference was part of the government’s efforts to open more windows of business opportunities in Nigeria to the world.
“With the opportunities that abound in Nigeria, this Conference aims at identifying those investors that are able, willing and committed to long term direct investment into the Nigerian economy.
“And it goes without saying that those from the Nigerian side are as desirous to meet investors in order to establish mutually beneficial relationships.
“Let me emphasise the need for us to jointly work together to enhance Nigeria’s economic growth and industrialization on our shared values and sound principles of mutually beneficial partnership and on a win-win business matrix,” Okoyen said.
The event was rounded off with a well packaged Award ceremony.