The Untold Story of the Nigeria-Niger Railway
The Kano-Maradi rail line, which was halted a few days ago, continues to be controversial as many Nigerians wonder why the government is building a rail line for another country when Nigeria is not enough. However, in this report, the Daily Trust reveals the true reasons behind the project.…
Two weeks ago, Makira, Katsina State, inaugurated the 284-kilometer Kano-Maradi railway line, which connects Nigeria with the neighboring Republic of Niger.
There are plans to modernize the Lagos-Kano-Jibia (LAKAGI) economic corridor, both the World Bank and the United States noted.
Back in 2016, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) / Nigeria, in partnership with the West African Alliance Without Borders, deployed a road management caravan on the southern segment of the Lagos-Kano-Jibia (LAKAJI) transport corridor.
The caravan started from Lagos, crossed Ogun and Oyo and ended in the state of Kwara.
USAID’s 2013 baseline LAKAJI corridor study found that shipping a 20-foot container from Jibia in northern Nigeria to Lagos in the southwest costs more than $ 3,000 and takes about 12.5 days. For comparison, shipping a 20-foot container from Lagos to Jibia costs about $ 5,000, while a 20-foot container takes about 19.5 days to ship.
The high cost of transporting goods along the corridor is largely due to the lengthy customs clearance times and the costs associated with the port of Lagos. The total cost and delivery time for the Lagos-Kano-Jibia corridor is significantly higher than for similar corridors in West Africa.
For this reason, USAID, in view of the enormous economic activity along the LAKAJI corridor, has proposed building a rail network that will connect Lagos to Jibia.
Similarly, a 2018 World Bank report suggested that “cuts in transport costs between remote and connected rural areas have a greater welfare impact than similar reductions in transport costs between cities and connected rural areas: i local welfare gains are greater for investments in support of rural communications “.
The publication added: “But for aggregate economic efficiency, it is more beneficial to focus on developing interregional corridors that connect major urban centers. For example, improvements to the LAKAGI corridor will result in an estimated annual profit of over $ 1.34 billion. ”
Both organizations have proposed the construction of a rail link linking Nigeria, a country with extensive port activity, with the landlocked Republic of Niger.
The Republic of Niger relies on Lagos ports for most of the containers bound for the country, and due to the lack of a rail line, it takes up to two weeks for containers to be delivered by road from Lagos to Niger and back.
The Daily Trust learned that as early as 2013, the federal government, through the Department of Transportation, ordered a feasibility study for the construction of a standard gauge railway line from Kano to Maradi in Niger.
In 2015, when President Muhammadu Bukhari took office, Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi inherited the feasibility studies and declared them economically viable.
In September 2020, the government approved a contract for the construction of a line connecting Kano-Katsina-Jibia, Dutse and Maradi in the Republic of Niger for a total of US $ 1,959,744,723.71 including VAT at a rate of 7.5%.
This was met with protest from some Nigerians, notably the Southern and Central Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), which called for justifying the construction of a railway line for the Republic of Niger.
It was clear from the project’s concept, however, that economic benefits remain the engine of a highly important rail project that was supposed to stimulate trans-Saharan trade and improve trade relations with West African neighbors.
The federal government has already launched the Lagos-Kano railroad, which reached Ibadan, while the Chinese government is awaiting funding for the already dedicated Ibadan-Kano line.
The Daily Trust reports that the China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC), which will take charge of the project, has already begun acquiring Ibadan Kano standard gauge single track right-of-way.
President Bukhari, who wants the project to be completed before leaving office in May 2023, has actually announced the construction with the governors of Kano, Katsina and Jigawa, the three beneficiaries of the line, as well as with Governor Maradi in the Republic. Niger among the dignitaries on the field in Makira, in the state of Katsina
The construction period of the Kano-Maradi railway is 36 months, and the goal is to connect the two tracks to ensure the movement of goods from Lagos to Maradi in the Republic of Niger.
While the CCECC manages standard gauge projects across the country, funding for the Maradi railway comes from European export credit agencies and development finance institutions with the Portuguese company Mota-Engil, which is building the railway line.
Amachi explained that the project has a length of 25 km in the Republic of Niger and includes the construction of a single-track railway line of standard gauge with a length of about 284 km, which crosses Kano – Dambatta – Kazaure – Shargelle – Masha – Daura – Katsina – Jibiya – Maradi – this is 94 km a branch from Kano to Dutse, the capital of Jigawa state.
“The entire network of this project includes 15 railway stations of various categories with main stations with a maximum passenger capacity of about 3,000 in the cities of Kano and Katsina and stations of the standard category in Kazaura, Daura, Jibia and Dutse, and minor stations in Dambatta, Shargella. and Masha, as well as rest stops at Kunya, Kano Airport, Muduru, Dadar and in the Republic of Niger at Annol Mata and Maradi.
“The railway line is also equipped with special accessories and installations, including water and power supply circuits, signaling and communication systems on GSM railways, freight stations, rolling stock depots and repair shops,” Amaeci said.
Return flights between Kano and Maradi are projected to carry 9,364 passengers and around 3,000 tons of cargo daily.
“There is no doubt that this route, linked to the current Lagos-Kano rail project, will bring higher traffic volumes and revenues when completed,” he said.
Speaking to the Daily Trust, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) chairman of the board Mal. Alhasan Musa provided an overview of the economic belt of the LAKAJI corridor and how the railway line will improve the corridor.
“It will serve not only the peoples of these three states, but the entire country. This is a project aimed at promoting economic activity in the LAKAJI corridor. People who don’t know LAKAJI should go and see. This is the economic belt of Lagos, Kano, Jibia. There will be economic prosperity for everyone from the bottom up, ”he said.
He also added that it would cut transport time from 15 days to two and would benefit malls such as Lagos, Jibia and Maradi.
But there is another reason.
“The point is, those who know Maradi and Jibia know that they are stepping stones for those who want to leave West Africa and go to Europe.
“It is from these places that traffickers transport people to Libya, and from Libya by boat to Europe, Italy, Greece and other places.
“So if we create an economic activity here, people will want to sit and make money here, instead of risking going through the Sahara into oblivion.
“So for many reasons this is a great project that serves Nigeria very well, serves West Africa, and is also part of the wider West African rail network.
“Just as we are talking about the Trans-Saharan Railway, the Trans-Sahara Gas Pipeline, we are also talking about the Trans-African Railway,” he said.
Kano State Governor Dr. Umar Ganduje said the state is the largest beneficiary of infrastructure development led by the Bukhari administration.
With the ongoing construction of the Kano-Kaduna, Kano-Maiduguri and Kano-Katsina roads, he said, once completed, the Kano-Maradi railway will further develop the state’s economy as a trade center in northern Nigeria. …
“The railway between Kano, Katsina, Jibia and Maradi has been launched and our airport is expanding. So what else do we need when it comes to development? “He said.
At the start of the project, pending the start of work on the Ibadan Kano project, stakeholders say the completion of these projects will stimulate regional trade and end the plight of producers and traders along the corridor. reduced transport costs from Lagos to other parts of the country.
Source: – Daily Trust