By Our State House Correspondent, Aliyu Suleiman
The Minister of Transport, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has said that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari was pleased with the development ongoing in the Nigeria’s transportation sector, even as the Federal Government currently needs about $16bn to actualise some of the projects and programmes already approved for the Ministry.
This was made known by the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, in a chat with State House correspondents after his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday.
According to the Transport Minister, “Buhari was pleased with developments in the sector during their meeting.
“The President sleeps and wakes up thinking about our railways; therefore I must always see him and tell him how far we have gone.
“Once he hears the progress that is being made, he feels happy. He is also very pleased with what we have done in terms of the narrow gauge.
“Between now and December; we are bringing in more locomotives, coaches and wagons, to ensure efficiency in the narrow gauge.
“We are expecting 10 for Kaduna-Abuja axis and another seven, which will hopefully go to Itakpe-Wari because we believe that by June, that axis should also come alive”
While intimating Nigerian on the development being made in the sector, Amaechi disclosed that the sum $16bn was needed especially for the construction of two deep seaports in Bonny, Rivers State and Warri, Delta State.
He said further that there were approval for Transport sector but the Ministry has to look for the money, saying that the money was not there. “Since the money needed was not coming easily, the government may consider adopting Public Private Partnership for some of the projects that had been approved.
“We need about $16bn and we can’t just pluck that form the sky. We will try and see if we can get Public Private Partnership PPP, especially as it pertains to the seaports.
“There are two deep seaports that were approved: the Bonny and Warri deep seaports.
“As for the Port Harcourt railway industrial park, we should also be able to get that done through PPP even though I doubt if we will be able to get railway as PPP because it is quite expensive.”
The Transport Minister noted that there were plans to also dredge the Calabar seaport, through PPP.
He assured Nigerians that the problem of traffic gridlock on the road leading to Apapa port in Lagos would be a thing of past by December, this year.
“In terms of the narrow gauge, if not for a hitch, we would have commenced trucking cargo form Apapa seaport to Ebute-Metta-Lagos and takeaway the challenges we are having with that Apapa grid and bad road. That will happen before December,” he maintained.
He avails of the government plans to bring more coaches and locomotives between now and December so as to boost rail transportation across the country.