Abiola Seun |
Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has hailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s strides in the transportation sector as key to unlocking Nigeria’s economic development potentials.
Amaechi believed that linking different transportation infrastructure like rails to seaports and roads as is being done by the current administration will quickly drive the economy of the country upwards.
The Minister said this while delivering the Founders’ day lecture at the University of Port Harcourt, Monday, titled, ‘The role of Transportation in nation building.’
Amaechi said, transportation is about logistics.
.”The duty of transportation is to contribute to the different spheres of economic development. Its absence will cripple an economy and dwarf human and economic development.
“Transportation in Nigeria is a means of economic and political growth in the development of Nigeria. The impact is felt in tourism, real estate development, agriculture and others.
“Transportation currently contributes about three percent of the gross domestic product according to the Nigerian Bureau for statistics”, he said.
He went down history lane to explain the importance of linking different transportation modes, stating that by 1916, the Port Harcourt port had been connected to the Coal mines in Enugu, with the objective of evacuating coal to Britain.
Outlining the work being done in connecting the country for ease of transportation of products, goods and people, Amaechi said the Eastern rail line would be connected to the Western line via Karfanchan, while the Warri-Itakpe line would be connected to the same line via Abuja and onwards to Kaduna-Kano.
“The Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail line was extended to Bonny, on the way to Bonny, it’ll pass through the Ogoni axis and terminate at Onne Seaport; then from Port Harcourt to Owerri, it’ll pass through Ubima with a connecting line to the Western line at Karfanchan.
“The Port Harcourt-Maiduguri line is also extended to Damaturu and Gashua in Yobe State. What makes this line unique, is that you’ll have a University and an Industrial Park in Rivers State.
“Hopefully the segment from Ibadan to Kano will commence this year”, he added.
For Seaports, Amaechi said, “you can’t have an efficient transportation system without seaports. You must end at the seaports for importation of goods or export to boost your economy.
“That’s the reason why we go to the high sea for transfer of cargoes to vessels with lower draft size. So these three new seaports will have the capacity to take vessels of 16-17 metres draft. The third seaport is at Warri and another one is being done by the Akwa Ibom State government with a private investor.
“I believe that with these seaports and rail lines, we’ll move from three percent GDP contribution to between 6 and 10 percent”, Amaechi said.
He also noted plans for sustainability of the projects being put in place by the Buhari administration.
“When Nigerians ask of our plans for sustainability and maintenance of these projects, my response is ‘transfer of technology.’ So the Chinese cannot just come here and dump the technology on us. We insisted that they create a Transportation University for us.
” For the one in Rivers State, I felt that Transportation University in Daura is enough, so we told the Portugese company that will build the Kano-Maradi line to come to Port Harcourt and build a Multi-disciplinary University with different faculties, including a transport faculty. Before September, we will start construction.
“As a short term measure, we also sent 300 Nigerians for training in China. They are being trained in railway engineering. This year, in September, we’ll be sending another 300 to Portugal to study the technology in the building of the Kano-Maradi rail line, which is purely European.”
For maritime security, Amaechi said the deep blue project will be in full effect before the end of the year.
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