Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, on has disclosed that the Kano – Kaduna standard guage rail project is being presently funded through the budget as the loan for project is yet to be concluded with the Chinese government.

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Amaechi, who started this while addressing journalists in Kano during the project inspection, however expressed optimism that if funded, the project could still be completed within the 18 months stipulated timeline, adding that the contractors must break the project into different gangs for easy completion.

According to him, “Going by the way we are going if we fund them the project contractors would complete the work within the 18 months timeline. But they must go by the conversation we had with them in the office which is that they must break this project into different gangs so that everybody is working at the same time and leaving at the same time. If they do that, I am sure that before May 2023, you have commercial activities”.

Responding to a question on if the they failed to work according to the conversation, the Minister insisted they will, adding that is not a problem.

On the accessibility of the stations, Amaechi said the stations were located with easy access of the people who are going to use it in mind, stressing that the reason for construction of the rail project is essentially for movements of passengers and especially cargoes.

“The most economic nerve center in Nigeria is Kano. Why this track is the most economically viable track is because of Kano and Lagos. The economic activities that take place in Kano can be conveyed to Lagos, vis a vis those who import from Lagos can also do the same thing. So it will create jobs, so the economic value here would be much more than it was before the construction” he said.

Amaechi added that the project would also help decongest both Kaduna and Abuja, adding that people  can work in Abuja and live in Kano using the trains to go to work on a daily basis.

He expressed satisfaction on the quality of work so far, and commended TEAM, the consulting firm in charge of supervision of the project.

“I never denied that there is financial challenges and that is because of economic down turn. The Chinese are not funding the way they used to fund us. Up till now we are yet to conclude the loan on this project so we are funding this project from the budget. That is why when you asked the question about completion I was skeptical. I used the word if funded, we are putting pressure on all the necessary institutions that used to give us loan, hopefully I don’t know whether before May we get enough money to complete this project, but currently we are funding through the budget. We will approach Ministry of Finance again to fund us within this period hoping that between now and May we should be able to get the loan” he added.

“We are negotiating with Standard Chartered Bank for loan” he said.

On local content, Amaechi said that government is encouraging not only the use of local materials but passing some of the jobs to local contractors.