By Patience Danjuma
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said on Monday that President Muhammadu Buhari was not aware that rail line was going to pass through his hometown in Daura, Katsina State.
The minister said President Buhari approved rail lines from Kano to Daura and Jibia local government areas of Katsina.
He, however, clarified that Buhari was initially unaware of the linkage.
He added that the President has directed that Kebbi, Zamfara and Sokoto be linked by rail.
He said, “The President summoned myself and the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, that we should go ahead with infrastructural development and he specifically told me that I must connect the 36 states capital by rail. It is a huge assignment. Huge in the sense that it is very expensive to connect.
“By the directive of the President, We are currently designing a railway that would connect Gusau, Sokoto and Kebbi.
“Transporting people from Benin Republic to Apapa seaport is not easy and to connect them from Benin Republic to Madakali; a border town in Kebbi, you need to pass through Daura and Jibia local government area.
“The President did not know that there is going to be rail that would pass through Daura. When I saw it on social media that the President has approved a rail project to his village and that Jonathan never did, I was surprised because that was not true.
“In fact, the railway to Yenagoa would have gone to Port Harcourt without passing through Otuoke but President Jonathan took it first to Otuoke, linked it to Yenagoa before connecting it to Port Harcourt.
“I must also ask, what is wrong with that because Otuoke or Daura is also part of Nigeria, I don’t see anything wrong with that.”
The Managing Director of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhiria, said the designs were done before Buhari became President.
He said, “Those designs were in place before the President took over. The President is only trying to implement it and make it work.”
Meanwhile the Ministry of Transportation says the National Council on Transportation has approved the commencement of a bicycle riding project, as means of transportation in the Federal Capital Territory.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi told journalists at the end of the National Council on Transportation on Monday in Sokoto.
He said that the introduction of bicycles as a means of transportation would reduce congestion on the road and also improve the health of the riders.
Amaechi said, “National Council on Transportation is a policy making Council, if nothing else; we approved that we should do a pilot project on bicycle riding in FCT.
“This is because Abuja is the only city that has facility for bicycle riding.
“For other states who want to do it, we must provide facility before they can proceed with it; we want to separate them from the roads because some motorists are impatient.
“So, we decided that we do it in Abuja because if you check, nearly all the roads in Abuja, there are lanes for bicycle.
“Any other state that wants to go ahead can do that but they must provide lanes for bicycle so that we do not have numerous accidents.”
He said that using bicycles as a means of transportation was not new adding that countries including in China, UK and others already using it.
Amaechi, who described the project as an investment, said it would also help in exercise and reduction in the number of passengers using other forms of transportation including cars within the cities.
Commenting on other project, he said that the ongoing rail projects would really boost the economy.
According to him, the Lagos-Ibadan railway construction would need about 150,000 workers before its completion.
“Construction alone that is going on between Lagos- Ibadan would really boost the economy.
“The railway work that is going on there will need about 150,000 workers and when it is done, the business it would generate would help employ people.”
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