How Jonathan, Buhari contributed to Abuja-Kaduna rail project — Amaechi

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The Minister of Aviation, Rotimi Amaechi, used his speech at the commissioning ceremony of the Abuja-Kaduna axis of Lagos-Kano Railway to itemise the contributions made by successive governments to the completion of the project.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday declared the standard gauge rail line open for commercial use at a well-attended ceremony.

But critics, especially supporters of former President Goodluck Jonathan, said Mr. Buhari and Mr. Amaechi failed to recognise the input of Mr. Jonathan to the project.

Some supporters said Mr. Jonathan “virtually completed” the project before leaving office in May 2015.

But a copy of Mr. Amaechi’s speech sent to PREMIUM TIMES showed that Mr. Jonathan’s contribution to the project was acknowledged.

“Today, as we gather here, we recall that the contract for Lagos-Kano railways was awarded by President Olusegun Obasanjo, partially executed by President Goodluck Jonathan and completed by President Muhammadu Buhari.”

“The tracks were commissioned by President Jonathan. Under the directives of President Buhari, the stations, signalling, the communications and part of the tracks was completed by this administration,” Mr. Amaechi said.

“The locomotive and coaches arrived in May, and between June and July, we had commenced the trial runs. We conveyed over 500 passengers per trip, twice a day for a month and two weeks free of charge.”

Other contributors acknowledged by Mr. Amaechi in his speech also included the Minister of Finance and China’s Export-Import Bank, which financed the project through counterpart funding between Nigerian government and a Chinese construction firm.

“Let me express my gratitude to the Ministry of Transportation and the Chinese government and the China Nexim Bank for their financial support. The same gratitude goes to my colleague, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, for discharging her responsibility as directed by Mr. President.

“Most importantly, it is the priority attached to transportation by the President, of which we are very grateful. We are also grateful to the contractor CCECC for keeping fate and doing a good job,” Mr. Amaechi said.

Mr. Amaechi also used the speech to acquaint Nigerians the benefits of the new rail corridor, saying commercial agriculture would receive a significant boost.

“Mr. President, as we invite you to officially flag-off commercial activities on the Idu-Kaduna segment of the Lagos-Kano railways, we remind Nigerians that the change agenda here impacts on housing as the poor are able to live in their houses in Kaduna and come to work in Abuja.

“At the same time, it impacts on agriculture and economy as agricultural produce are conveyed from Kaduna to Abuja at much cheaper rates. Transportation is also provided to Nigerians who live between Kano and Abuja at a cheaper rate. I hope that when the Kaduna-Abuja Road is maintained, it will last longer as heavy cargo is now conveyed by rail.”