The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has asked the contractor handling the Kano-Kaduna rail project to utilise local labour and source a significant quantity of construction materials locally.
The Minister stated this on Friday while inspecting construction work on the new rail corridor being handled by the China Civil Construction Engineering Company (CCECC).
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He said it was unacceptable for the bulk of money Nigeria borrowed from China to return to the Asian country.
He also said utilisation of local manpower will create opportunities for transfer of technology.
“The government is encouraging the use of local materials and passing down the jobs to Nigerians so that we are part of the process. Financially, we will also benefit.
“It is not good for the Chinese to come here; we will borrow $2billion and they will go to their homes with it. We should also spend part of it in the country,” he said.
The scope of the railway project involves a 203 kilometer double track standard gauge railway from Kano to Kaduna.
The project is expected to gulp $1.2bn, without variations on the scope of work agreed.
Already the Federal Government had last year released over $220 million to CCECC commence work.
Our correspondent reports that whilst work has commenced on the facility, a section of the rail route has been excavated and smaller bridges being done.
The Federal Government has given the contractor a deadline of May 2023 for commissioning, but subject to availability of funds.
The government had earlier announced that the planned loan to fund the project was being delayed.
“So, we are funding this project from the budget, that was why I was skeptical on the completion date and I said, if we fund them, I used that word if, because of the situation of things,” he stated.
“However, we are putting pressure on the necessary institutions that need to give us loan, hopefully before May, we should be able to get enough money to complete this project. But currently, we are funding it through the budget. We will approach the minister of finance again to fund us between now and May; hoping that by May, we should be able to get the loan.
On equipment and manpower, he said: “That has to do with funding, we want about 742 equipment and 200 are at the seaport. What we agreed is that they must bring in 2000 equipment to avoid what we suffered in Ibadan-Lagos.
“The equipment were either breaking down or were not enough; we had to place order for new ones because they were not off the shelf thing. So for this one, we have asked that they buy all the equipment they need do that; as they breakdown, they replace and in one year plus,, they should be able to complete the job.”
Editor’s note: This picture was used for illustrative purposes