Nigerian ministers have defended the planned construction of the rail line from Kano in northern Nigeria to Maradin in Niger Republic, saying that the project is purely economic, rather than political.
Many Nigerians have criticised the plan to extend the rail line to Niger Republic when many states and commercial cities in Nigeria are not linked with rail lines. However, Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi said in Abuja on Friday, 2 October 2020, that people should stop politicising the project, as it would create more employment opportunities and enhance imports and exports that would open up Nigeria through neighbouring countries.
“The decision to invest in [the] Kano-Maradin rail line is purely economic, no politics. People are the ones politicising it. I made that decision because there is a competition between the coastal states of Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana,” local media reports on Saturday, 3 October 2020, quoted Amaechi as saying.
According to the minister, the other three countries are able to move cargoes from landlocked countries to their seaports for either export or import.
“They are able to do those businesses, but we are not able to do them because the landlocked countries are complaining of crimes. The roads are not safe in Nigeria, there is custom interference [and] police checkpoints here and there,” he said.
Amaechi explained that the government decided to construct a rail line from Kano to Maradin, a village in Niger Republic, in order to attract those cargoes,
In the same vein, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, said that the government approved the extension of rail construction from Lagos-Kano-Katsina to Marradi in Niger Republic for economic and commercial benefits.
Speaking on the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) live programme, Good Morning Nigeria, on Friday in Abuja, Mohammed said that the rail extension was intended for Nigeria to take economic advantages of import and export of Niger Republic, Chad and Burkina Faso, which are landlocked countries.
Mohammed said contrary to the disinformation by some commentators on the rail extension project, the decision was taken in the economic interest of the country.
“I think there has been a lot of disinformation and total lack of information over that linking of Lagos, Kano, Katsina railway to Maradi. The wisdom behind it is that Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso are all landlocked, meaning that they do not have access to the sea.
“What this means is that most of their imports and exports have to go through neighbouring countries’ seaports, like Cotonou in Benin Republic, Togo and Ghana,” he added.