The Federal Government on Wednesday approved a $1,959,744,723.71 contract for a rail line that would link Nigeria to the Niger Republic.
The approval was given at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, told State House correspondents at the end of the meeting that the money approved for the development of the proposed rail line linking Kano-Dutse-Katsina-Jibia and to Maradi in the Niger Republic was inclusive of Value Added Tax.
The rail line is designed to connect three Northern states – Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states – as well as seven senatorial districts.
The 248-kilometre line is expected to aid the transportation of crude oil
But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and some civil rights groups took a swipe at the Buhari regime, saying the project was a misplacement of priority in a country facing intractable problems of insecurity and harsh economic conditions arising from hikes in fuel price and electricity tariff.
Besides the rail project, Amaechi disclosed the council also approved the award of a contract worth N3.049bn for the design, manufacture, supply, testing and inauguration of one railway crane for the purposes of clearing rail tracks during accidents.
The minister said, “The first approval for our ministry is the award of contract for the design, manufacture, supply, testing and inauguration of one railway crane of 150-ton capacity for emergency and recovery of rolling stocks.
“This is to sort out situations of an accident on the track. It is for a total cost of N3,049,544,000.
“The second one 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.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Niger Delta
Affairs, Godswill Akpabio, said the council also approved N745.2m to be spent on engaging additional forensic auditors for the Niger Delta Development Commission.
The minister said the approval brought the total number of forensic auditors engaged for the commission to 16.
He explained that they would be working with the lead forensic auditor in nine states of the Niger Delta which he said had been divided into 16 lots.