The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has revealed what he says are the economic benefits Nigeria will get from constructing a rail line to Maradi in Niger Republic from Nigeria.
He also revealed that he made entreaties to the Niger Republic to beg the country to allow the Nigerian government construct the $1.95bn railway from Kano State into Maradi in Niger Republic.
Amaechi made this disclosure during a guest appearance on Channels Television’s ‘News Night’ programme on Monday, March 29.
The railway is expected to run from Kano to Dutse- Katsina through Jibia and end at Maradi Niger Republic.
According to the Minister, some critics had even accused him of serving northern interests even though his wife is Igbo.
Amaechi said, “It is like the shout about Kano-Maradi rail. I said my wife is Igbo. She is not from Maradi. The worst is that they will say I am serving the interest of the North. Let’s assume that is the argument you will make. The worst I can do is stop at Jibia which is the border.
“To even get to Maradi I had to travel to Niger Republic to even beg them. They are not bringing their money. It is our money. But I’m begging them to allow me access into Maradi.”
He argued that the new rail would help Nigeria to compete and this would expand the economy.
Amaechi added, “Why are they not exporting through Nigeria? They say o, your roads are bad. So, the railway takes care of that. They say customs is difficult, customs will impose charges that are not charged in Benin Republic.
“They say immigration does not allow them. Even when they pass all these, there are police checkpoints on the road, customs checkpoints on the road, immigration checkpoints on the road. Then communities have their own checkpoints on the road, armed robbers attack them on the road. So, they prefer to go where it is safe and cheaper to do business.
“So, all we are saying is we come to Maradi, we build offices, we build a warehouse, you put your things in the warehouse, you deal with customs at Maradi, deal with immigration at Maradi, deal with police, whatever you need to check. Once you put the goods on top of the wagon, it goes straight to Lagos. When it gets to Lagos, straight to the ship because the things you would do in Lagos, you would have done in Maradi.”
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