President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday flagged off the groundbreaking ceremony of the Kano-Katsina-Jibiya-Maradi railway project with a branch line to Dutse in Jigawa State.
Speaking virtually from the State House in Abuja, the president said that the project, when completed, will enhance economic activities, particularly the trans-Saharan trade between the two countries.
He urged private investors to take full advantage of the opportunity and engage in legitimate businesses aimed at transforming the nation’s economy.
The groundbreaking, which was held at Kwarin Tama village in Katsina State, was attended physically by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.
Other dignitaries present include the Ministers of Interior, Information and Culture, Foreign Affairs, Heath, Science and Technology, the governors of Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, and Maradi in the Niger Republic.
Emirs of Katsina, Kano, Dutse, and top security heads of Nigeria and the Niger Republic were also in attendance.
The railway project is expected to connect three Northern states – Kano, Katsina, and Jigawa – then terminate at Maradi, Niger Republic
The rail line is also expected to financially empower Nigeria as the import and export hub for the Niger Republic and help the country compete favourably with other coastal West African countries in facilitating trade with the region’s landlocked countries.
In his address shortly after the ceremony commenced, Transportation Minister Amaechi said that the project had been conceived in 2015, adding that its scope allowed for a 25-kilometer extension into Niger Republic.
“The entire network of the project has 15 railway stations of different categories with major stations of approximately 3,000 filed passenger capacity in the cities of Kano and Katsina,” he said.
“And stations of standard category in Kazaure, Daura, Jibia, and Dutse with minor stations in Danbatta, Shargalle, and Mashi as well as power stations in Gunya, Kano Airport, Muduru, Daddara and at Hannun Mata and Maradi in the Niger Republic.
“The project will reach its substantial completion in the year 2023.
“There is no doubt that this route, when linked with the ongoing Lagos-Kano railway project on completion, will generate higher traffic volumes and revenue.”