Kano-Niger Republic Rail Line: PDP, CSOs, Others Attack FG As FEC Approves $1.96bn Project

The Federal Government on Wednesday approved a $1,959,744,723.71 contract for a rail line that would link Nigeria to Niger Republic.

The approval was given at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, told State House correspondents at the end of the meeting that the money approved for the development of the proposed rail line linking Kano-Dutse-Katsina-Jibia and to Maradi in Niger Republic was inclusive of Value Added Tax.

The rail line is designed to connect three Northern states – Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states – as well as seven senatorial districts.

The 248-kilometre line is expected to aid the transportation of crude oil.

But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and some civil rights groups took a swipe at the Buhari regime, saying the project was a misplacement of priority in a country facing intractable problems of insecurity and harsh economic conditions arising from hikes in fuel price and electricity tariff.

Besides the rail project, Amaechi disclosed the council also approved the award of contract worth N3.049bn for the design, manufacture, supply, testing and inauguration of one railway crane for the purposes of clearing rail tracks during accidents.

The minister said, “The first approval for our ministry is the award of contract for the design, manufacture, supply, testing and inauguration of one railway crane of 150-ton capacity for emergency and recovery of rolling stocks.

“This is to sort out situations of accident on the track. It is for a total cost of N3,049,544,000.

“The second one is the award of contract for the development of the proposed Kano-Katsina-Jibia to Matadi rail line in Niger Republic and to Dutse, the capital of Jigawa, for a total cost of $1,959,744,723.71, inclusive of 7.5% VAT.”

Meanwhile, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, said the council also approved N745.2m to be spent on engaging additional forensic auditors for the Niger Delta Development Commission.

The minister said the approval brought the total number of forensic auditors engaged for the commission to 16.

He explained that they would be working with the lead forensic auditor in nine states of the Niger Delta which he said had been divided into 16 lots.

 

“The council also considered and approved the need to attach relevant investigative security agencies to each of the team to ensure transparency and also to be sure that whatever comes out is acceptable to not just in Nigeria but to the international community,” the minister added.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said the council approved N12.088bn for the construction of Section II of the Ohafia-Arochukwu Road.

“This section comprises Umuahia/Bende/Ohafia Road in Abia State and it was approved for the construction at N12.088bn comprising a distance of 45 kilometres to complement Section I which was previously awarded in 2018, that is the section from Bende/Arochukwu to Ohafia which is 19.27 kilometres,” he said.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said the council approved the augmentation of the contract for the construction of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund’s headquarters in Abuja in the sum of N3.773bn, therefore raising the initial approval for the contract to about N14bn.

Mohammed added that FEC also approved the procurement of 1,800 units of laptop computers for three Nigeria Customs Service’s training schools at the cost of N351,540,000.

He disclosed that the council also approved N197million for the expansion of the NCS’  cash management’s software in compliance with International Public Sector Accounting Standards.

He said the software, when installed, would enhance the efficiency of the Department of Customs.

The Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, said FEC approved the contract for the procurement of 52 Green Maria vehicles for the Nigeria Correctional Service.

He said the vehicles would complement the about 451 already acquired between 2016 and 2019. The minister did not disclose the cost of the contract.

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