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Work set to start on multibillion-naira Kano-Kaduna Rail upgrade

Construction firms that will be involved in the building of the Kano-Kaduna end of the Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway Project being financed by the Federal Government have started mobilising to site.

The contract of the railway project which is to extend to the border with neighbouring Niger Republic is being handled by the team of Chinese construction companies led by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), at the cost of about $8.3 billion.

Confirming the development in a tweet, Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, said the official flag-off of the work at the construction site in Kano will be made known at a date to be made public by his ministry.

BusinessDay gathered that the contract for the construction of the standard gauge which will be connecting states in the northern and southern parts of the country were awarded to the Chinese company, CCECC, on 15th of May 2018, by the government.

The initial cost of the project was put at $6.68 billion, and the timeframe of the construction then was between 2 to 3 years, but the take-off of the work was delayed as a result of what sources in the ministry attributed to funding difficulties.

The Kano-Kaduna end of the project which is being funded through a loan sourced from Exim Bank of China, is expected to be completed before the end of the life span of the current administration in 2023.

The railway project is being developed in segments under the 25 years rail development master plan initiated during the administration of the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, and the implementation of the project was step-up subsequent administrations, which the current administration of President Buhari seems determined to complete.

On completion, the new rail line will be connected to the Kaduna –Abuja segment of the rail network that was completed officially by the Buhari administration in July 2016, which has since been in operation.

The construction of the 187 km Kaduna –Abuja segment of the railway network was carried out by CCECC, a company that is also handling the development of the rail network from Kano to Kaduna.

The actualization of the rail track is expected to impact on the movement of people, goods and services, across along the Abuja –Kaduna and Kano Business Corridor, particularly, in terms of cost reduction.

Experts are also of the view that the development of the railway connection will also provide safe movement of people between Kano –Kaduna –Abuja, which for a long time now has been experiencing mounting incidences of kidnapping for ransom by bandits.

One of the projects that are expected to benefit from the new rail connection is the Kano Inland Dry Project located in the ‘Special Economic Zone’ by the Federal Government in the commercial city of Kano.

It will be recalled that the Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, had also confirmed that the Ministry has also applied for funding to commence coastal rail for the Port-Harcourt to Warri segment.

The minister pointed out that the Minister of Transportation for State, Gbemisola Saraki, has been assigned the responsibilities of overseeing all the maritime agencies while he focuses in the railway sector.

The Lagos–Kano Standard Gauge Railway is an under construction standard gauge railway across Nigeria, from the Atlantic Ocean port of Lagos to Kano, near the Niger border.

The railway is to run parallel to the British-built Cape gauge line, which has a lower design capacity and is in a deteriorated condition.

The railway is being built-in segments. Only the segment between Abuja and Kaduna has been completed so far, and services began officially in July 2016. The 187 km segment is an important junction point on the existing Cape gauge railway network, where a branch line departs the Lagos–Nguru line for Kafanchan, on the Port Harcourt–Maiduguri Railway.

The segment between Lagos and Ibadan which sources said has reached 98 percent completion is the is the first part of a new 2,733km Lagos-Kano standard gauge line, with an initial an investment of $1.5bn from the Nigerian and Chinese governments.

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