The Federal Government needs $16 billion to build deep seaports in Warri, Delta State and Bonny in Rivers State, Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi, said yesterday.
He also hinted that more coaches and locomotives to boost rail transportation across the country would be brought it between now and December.
Amaechi spoke with State House reporters after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said President Buhari was pleased with the progress in the transport sector.
He said: “He is also very pleased with what we have done in terms of the narrow gauge. Between now and December, we are bringing in more locomotives, coaches and wagons, to ensure efficiency in the narrow gauge. We are expecting 10 for Kaduna-Abuja axis and another seven, which will hopefully go to Itakpe-Warii because we believe that by June, that axis should also come alive.”
The minister also spoke about the plans to dredge the Calabar seaport through Public Private Partnership (PPP).
He stated that the problem of gridlock on the road leading to Apapa port in Lagos would be over by December.
“In terms of the narrow gauge, if not for a hitch, we would have commenced trucking cargo form Apapa seaport to Ebute-Metta-Lagos and takeaway the challenges we are having with that Apapa grid and bad road. That will happen before December.
“You are aware that we have gotten approval for the eastern flank of the Nigerian Railway modernisation which has to do with from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri cutting across Aba, Owerri, Enugu, Umuahia to Makurdi, to Abakiliki, and to Awka, Lafia down to Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and to Damaturu and ends at Borno.
“And also the other railway from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic I need to brief the President about how we are progressing with negotiations of loans and others and our possible financiers.
“I also need to brief him about the current activities going on in the Lagos/Ibadan axis and what we intend to do to complete the Lagos/Kano railway. It is basically about my office.
On when the government will commence work on the new approval for the eastern railway, he said “There are approvals but we have to look for the money, the money is just not there. It is not easy, it is a total of about $16 billon and you don’t pluck $16 billion from the sky.
Whether it will be done through PPP arrangement, he said “That is the first line of action, we will try and see if we can work on PPP particularly as it patterns to the seaport. Don’t forget that two deep seaports have been approved; Bonny seaport and the Warri seaport. The Port Harcourt Railway Industrial Park will, we should also be able to implement that through PPP. l hope we can but l doubt if it will be easy to get railway as PPP because it is quite expensive.
On the Calabar port dredging project, he said “NPA is on it. They have advertised. They prefer to do it in a PPP arrangement basically to see how we can dredge the Calabar port
Asked to speak on the President’s vision for the railway transportation, he said “That is why I was summoned. Don’t forget that the President sleeps and wakes up thinking about railway and if his BP will not rise, I must see him and tell him how far we have progressed. Once he hears that progress is being made he feels a bit happy.”