President Muhammadu Buhari has commissioned the Wagon Assembly plant in Kajola, Ogun State, the very first in West Africa equipped with a Locomotive and Rolling Depot which has the capacity to produce 500 Wagons annually.
The construction of the assembly plant was inaugurated in November 2019 by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo to boost local content in railway modernisation.
Daily Trust reports that the project was a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative of China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC) built into the 157-km Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge project.
According to Buhari, out of 368 various types of Wagons needed and awarded to Messrs. CCECC, about 220 Wagons would be produced at the Kajola Plant pending when the plant would be transformed to full Wagon manufacturing plant.
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This is expected to boost local content in railway modernisation projects’ procurement nationwide.
Represented by the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Muazu Sambo, the President explained that other advantages of setting up the plant is the potential to be provided by the on-going rail projects in the country and Sub-African Region which will generate significant demand for Nigerians’ Rolling Stock.
The President said the plant was part of the effort of the Federal Government in the promotion and development of local capacity in Assembling and Manufacturing of Rolling Stock, as well as a means to generate employment and boost economic opportunities for the citizenry.
He said, “Having said that, I am glad to announce to you that we are here to commission the completed Kajola Assembly Plant here in Ogun State and to further inform you that the first set of Wagons assembled here in Nigeria is being rolled out for further deployment for freight services.
“With the milestone achieved, we are seriously working to open the first University of Transportation in Daura, Katsina State. The intention of this University is to ensure adequate turn out of graduates, technicians, artisans, researchers on different areas of transportation especially railway transportation to guarantee the sustainability of the massive infrastructural provision of this administration on rail transportation.
“We therefore expect that very soon graduands of the University of Transportation Daura and returnees from various Universities in China that were awarded scholarships by Messrs. CCECC will occupy their pride of place in the Kajola Assembly Plant.”
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, stated that siting of the plant in Nigeria affirms Buhari’s directive on Executive Order 5 which prioritizes Nigerians and Nigerian businesses in the execution and procurement of Science, Technology and Engineering projects and services.
“The plant offers an important platform for indigenous technicians, artisans, and others to gain specialized skills for the production and maintenance of rolling stock. This is expected to spin up businesses across the country wherever rail network is in existence as well as create job opportunities and improve the technological capacity in the country,” she said.
Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Engr. Fidet Okhiria, said the plant would serve as a home for replacement of faulty wagons instead of sourcing them overseas.
Okhiria disclosed that some wagons have been delivered to NRC which passed the trial stage and were certified for usage.
Rep. Tajudeen Obasa, representing Ojo Federal Constituency, who read a joint message by the Committee on Land Transportation described the Kajola Plant as another “promise made, and promise kept by the Buhari administration.”