The Presidency has said Nigeria government will not construct rail line to Niger Republic.
This comes after serious backlash from Nigerians following the announcement by Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval of $1.96 billion was for the construction of a rail line to link Kano, Dutse, Katsina and Maradi in the Niger Republic, the Presidency has said the construction will only get to a designated point at the border.
Amaechi, while announcing the approval at a post-FEC briefing at the presidential villa, Abuja on Wednesday, had said: “The second one (approval) is the award of contract for the development of the proposed Kano-Katsina-Jibia to Matadi rail line in the Niger Republic and to Dutse, the capital of Jigawa, for a total cost of $1,959,744,723.71, inclusive of 7.5% VAT.”
But in a tweet on his personal handle, @GarShehu, on Thursday, the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity), Garba Shehu, said the agreement was reached between Nigeria and Niger in 2015 for the Kano-Katsina-Maradi Corridor Master Plan (K2M).
He said both nations agreed to build a rail line to the “border town of Maradi.”
Maradi is the second-largest city in the Niger Republic and the administrative centre of Maradi Region and also the seat of the Maradi Department.
The presidential spokesman said in the series of tweets: “Nigeria isn’t building rail line into Niger but, only to the designated Border point.
“An agreement between Nigeria and Niger in 2015, coordinated by the Nigeria-Niger Joint Commission for Cooperation has a plan for “Kano-Katsina-Maradi Corridor Master Plan, (K2M)” as it is called.
“Going by this, the two nations would each build a rail track to meet at the border town of Maradi.
“Nigerian delegates to that meeting comprised officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Boundaries Commission, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Water Resources as well as those of Kano & Katsina states.
“The objective of the rail is the harnessing of raw materials, mineral resources and agricultural produce.
“When completed, it will serve domestic industries and play the role of a viable transportation backbone to the West African subregion, starting with the neighbouring Niger Republic for their export and import logistic chain.”
When Tribune Online contacted Shehu, he maintained there will be a meeting point between Niger and Niger railway but could not say where for sure.
He said: “Well, I am not saying it is Maradi town. The designated point, I said.
“There is no confusion there unless somebody wants me to do something.
“Supposing the designated point is in Maradi town. I said designated point, I didn’t say town. And I am not going to be drawn into any controversy on that.
“As I said, I don’t want to be drawn into a controversy with the Minister. I’m saying to you that the document I have seen is saying designated point and it can be a town, it can be anywhere.
“Unless I see the location, I cannot give information I don’t have.”