As many residents are excited about the business development that the completion of the Kano-Kaduna rail project will bring, some residents still hold grievances and await compensation from the government over farmlands converted for the project.
Residents of communities on the corridor of the ongoing Kano-Kaduna rail line project have expressed joy and satisfaction with the progress recorded by the project with a great hope to boost and ease business relations between the two states and even beyond, but many of them still call on the government to pay them compensation for their farmlands taken over by the project, Daily Trust Saturday reports.
According to some of them, apart from promoting businesses, the project will also uplift their towns and promote developmental activities in their regions.
For Malam Muntari Abdullahi and other residents of Tashar Yari and Makarfi towns in Kaduna State, the train is progressing beyond measure, which makes relive the olden days of rail transportation and how it made their transportation system easier. He said their town, as one of the leading villages in farming, would get rapid transformation which will enhance their movement of farm produce to either Kano or Kaduna and other cities, as well as the supply of other commodities to their towns.
Also, according to residents of Kuya town in Ikara Local Government Area of Kaduna State, apart from playing a key role in moving their goods, the train will provide more business opportunities and increase visitors, especially if one of the stations is established in their town.
“This railway will be very useful to us, especially with regards to the farming sector. It will ease our movement of farm produce to markets. Everybody here is a farmer and we live far away from the market. Also, we can move freely to other places like Kano or Kaduna cities,” one of the residents, Idi Barau said.
The Kano-Kaduna train project was commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2021. Although the project commenced on April 14, 2022, it is expected to be completed on June 30, 2023, the Project Profile indicated. With a length of 200.11 kilometres and an expected speed limit of 150 kilometres per hour, the modern railway project is being constructed by the Chinese company – China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation Limited (CCECC) at the cost of $1.2 billion.
Executed purposely to facilitate the expansion of the Northwest extension of Abuja-Kaduna railway, the Kano-Kaduna counterpart is expected to strengthen the link between the cities and other areas, promote the export of agricultural products and other mineral resources as well as facilitate the mass movement of passengers, particularly middle-class income earners.
When Daily Trust Saturday correspondent travelled along the axis, it was found that the project is recording success across all the sites with workers, vehicles, and their supervisors as well as engineers moving from one place to another to ensure proper coordination. From the starting point in Zawachiki of Kumbotso Local Government Area of Kano State, which shares perimeter fencing with Dala Inland Dry Port to Tashar Yari in Kaduna State, the project has been divided into eight sub-units each with its engineers and supervisors thereby making it easier for professional and faster constructions.
From Zawaciki, passing through Kanwa town in Madobi LGA of Kano State to the neighbouring towns and villages along the Kano-Kaduna axis, passing through Ikara LGA of Kaduna State and then linking to Kano-Zaria Road, the rail project proceeds to the Tashar Yari axis where one of the biggest stations is expected to be situated. It will further link to the Zaria train station, from where it will then proceed to Rigasa in Kaduna State.
Daily Trust gathered during the trip that from the Zawachiki main station in Kano to Tashar Yari in Kaduna State, the project has reached a significant completion stage. This is to the extent that majority of the places have been completed. The only part remaining is laying the rail tracks on the route. With exceptions of where the train has to go on top of bridges due to dams and other linkages to towns, some of the completed places have already been decorated with grasses by the sides of the rail line, a development that shows its readiness to be used upon laying the tracks.
In an interaction with some workers on site, who chose not to be named, they said if not for the past rainy season which halted the bridge construction, further leading to delay in the work, they would have finished by now, adding that in the next two months, the bridges would also be completed.
They said the train line, as a modern one, has to undergo several processes some of which include places it will go on top of bridges, while some underground, as well as on the ground just like motor vehicles.
“There are four bigger bridges that will pass on top of the water, while there are also smaller ones that are either linking two villages or are providing ways for passage of people, goods and animals to the bush or farms,” one of the workers said.
However, despite the progress recorded by the project, it has not reached the Kaduna Rigasa train station. The project currently stops at Tashar Yari, a few kilometres to Zaria city.
Daily Trust gathered from the Zaria Train Station that the contractors have cleared and demarcated the roadside to Kauna, but work has not started.
Speaking further about the development the project will bring to them, a resident of Kanwa town in Madobi Local Government Area of Kano State, Malam Harisu Iliyasu, said they never thought about the reality of the work until it reached its present stage, hoping that it will be completed during Buhari’s administration.
“Even though they brought their equipment long ago, we never thought they could make it to this level. We thought it was the usual promises from politicians, but honestly, with what we have seen now, we believe that the project is a reality. We will have a train passing through our town. That, alone, is a big development.
“But our hope and prayers are for the project to be completed during this administration. We are afraid that the incoming government will abandon it. This is how the government operates, if you don’t like a project started by your predecessor, you just abandoned it, which is the reason for our setback,” he said.
Communities lament non-payment of compensation
Meanwhile, although the Kano-Kaduna train service is of great benefit to the states and communities along the corridor, some of the residents of these communities lamented that they are yet to receive compensation for their farmlands that were acquired for the project. Others said they were paid but not to the expected amount, calling on the government to consider them.
“This place that we are standing is also part of the train areas. It belongs to me. But I wasn’t even paid a Kobo. They paid some of us but they didn’t pay some. We are pleading with them to please pay us our compensation,” a resident of Kanwa town, Zubairu Murtala said.
Project reaches 75%, to be completed soon – Contractor
Speaking to our reporter on the state of the project, one of the engineers on site, Hassan Umar, said they have so far achieved their target of the project and that they will finish within the agreed time. He said they are presently at over 75 percent and that the majority of the places await only the track laying.
“The project has reached its final level. From here to Tashar Yari, majority of the work has been done. The only thing that remains is the laying of the rail tracks which will make it ready for use. In most of the places, we have even planted grasses which will beautify the places.
“The only thing delaying the project is the bridges we are constructing and very soon they will be completed. We are working day and night. It was the rainy season that halted the work, but now we are fully back,” he said.
Likewise, during the trip, Daily Trust gathered from the main station in Tashar Yari that the rail tracks would soon be laid on the completed parts of the project. The tracks were sighted by our reporter with the train that will lay them on the ground. An insider, who doesn’t want to be named, said the company expects some bridges to be completed.