Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, has said the Federal Government has created over one million direct and indirect new jobs in four years through the resuscitation of rail transportation by the President Goodluck Jonathan-led administration.
The minister said this while speaking at the ‘Public Affairs Forum,’ a programme organised by the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs in Abuja.
Umar described the ongoing construction of new rail lines and rehabilitation of existing ones as a key component of the ‘Transformation Agenda’ of the Jonathan administration, which goal was to reposition the nation’s economy.
He said, “The fundamental goal of the transport sector under the Transformation Agenda is to develop an adequate, safe, environmentally sound, efficient and affordable integrated transport system within the framework of a progressive and competitive national and international market economy.”
Umar further said the rehabilitation of over 90 per cent of the entire existing narrow gauge lines throughout the country was almost completed, noting that the rehabilitation was the first segment of the 25 years railway strategic plan.
He added that the rehabilitation of 1,124km Western rail line (Lagos-Kano) had been completed, while work on the 1,657 km Eastern rail line (Port Harcourt — Maiduguri) was at an advanced stage of completion.
He added that the branch line from Kafanchan – Kaduna was expected to be completed before the end of 2014.
According to the Transport Minister, the Jonathan administration is constructing the first rail line from the Federal Capital Territory to Kaduna, which is a standard gauge rail line, while contract for the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge double track has also been awarded.
“The Jonathan administration has signed a framework with a reputable Chinese firm for the construction of coastal railway line that will connect 10 states and add great value to Nigerian economy. This project alone will create an approximate 4 million jobs in another five years.
“We have also made giant strides in sea transportation by partnering with the Lagos State Government and the private sector to develop the Lekki deep seaport, while the process for the development of lbom deep sea port in Akwa lbom State and Badagry in Lagos are in progress.”
Umar said futher that the contract for the dredging of critical parts of River Benue had been awarded and would be completed in 36 months, explaining that the government had completed the dredging of the lower River Niger from Warri (Delta State) to facilitate all year navigability.”
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