The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Thursday cleared the air on the construction of a rail line from Nigeria to the Niger Republic.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, on Wednesday, announced that the Federal Executive Council approved $1.96bn for the construction of a rail line to link Kano, Dutse, Katsina and Maradi in Niger Republic.
“The second one (approval) 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,” Amaechi had told reporters.
However, many stakeholders and the opposition Peoples Democratic Party described the project as a misplaced priority.
But Shehu, in a series of tweets posted on his Twitter handle, @GarShehu, on Thursday, defended the decision of the Federal Government of Nigeria to embark on the project.
He also stated that the plan was to construct the rail line up to the border Nigeria shares with the neighbouring country and not into the country itself.
“Nigeria isn’t building rail line into Niger but, only to the designated border point.
“An agreement between Nigeria and Niger in 2015, coordinated by the Nigeria-Niger Joint Commission for Cooperation has a plan for Kano-Katsina-Maradi Corridor Master Plan, K2M as it is called.
“Going by this, the two nations would each build a rail track to meet at the border town of Maradi.
“Nigerian delegates to that meeting comprised officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Boundaries Commission, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Water Resources as well as those of Kano and Katsina states.
“The objective of the rail is the harnessing of raw materials, mineral resources and agricultural produce.
“When completed, it will serve domestic industries and play the role of a viable transportation backbone to the West African subregion, starting with the neighboring Niger Republic for their export and import logistic chain,” Garba Shehu wrote.