Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed this on Thursday at the third Maritime Stakeholders Interactive Forum.

The details: According to Amaechi, the approval for the $5.3 billion project was given on Wednesday, while the Ministry had also applied for funding to commence coastal rail for the Port Harcourt to Warri rail segment.

He said: “Just yesterday, we got approval to complete the $5.3 billion Ibadan to Kano rail project. We have also applied for funding to commence coastal rail for the Port Harcourt to Warri segment. In my first term as minister, I completely abandoned the maritime sector to the heads of agencies. This time, that won’t be happening again.”

Also, Amaechi disclosed that the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, would be in charge of all maritime agencies, while he would focus on the railway sector. According to the minister, discussions with President Muhammadu Buhari on maritime safety had been completed with the assurance that Nigeria would have a single window in the maritime sector.

“I have instructed that the Minister of State for Transportation should personally supervise the maritime agencies, while I just oversee what is happening. There are two things I discussed with Mr President that I will be focusing on in this second term as minister, and they are maritime security and the single window project.

“I have assured the government that by the end of 2020, we should have a single-window in the maritime sector. On maritime security, I have told the Israeli firm HSLI that they are too slow. By now, they should have launched. I want to know the situation of things with the aspect of security on our maritime space.”

Loans from China: Earlier in September 2018, Amaechi disclosed that the Federal Government was committed to the project as it was negotiating about $6 billion facility from the Chinese EXIM Bank to do the project.

“We are currently in negotiations with the China Exim Bank to get about $6 billion to do (rail lines) from Ibadan to Kano. It is a difficult decision. Why is it difficult? The money required is about $8 billion to do a double track but the Chinese are insisting that they can’t fund the double track.

“They (Chinese) are asking us to do a single track and they want it at Minna so that instead of going from Minna to Kaduna, we should go from Minna to Abuja and then join it from Abuja to Kaduna. But there are those who argue that we should not accept that, rather we should tell them (Chinese) to fund it in segments. This, however, does not make economic sense,” he explained.

In May 2019, the Federal Government approved $2.3 billion for the construction of a rail line that would run across Nigeria’s coastal states. Nairametrics learned that Chinese banks would provide $1.8 billion (78.26%) of the fund in the form of a loan facility. The Federal Government, on its part, will contribute the balance of $500 million (21.74%) as counterpart fund.

The latest approval means the Federal Government has approved a total of $7.6 so far on rail line projects in the past year.

On the rail project: Basically, the rail line, which is a part of the Lagos to Kano double rail project will pass through several states including Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Kwara and Niger states before it gets to Kaduna and then Kano.

According to Amaechi as earlier disclosed, the rail will cost about $8 billion and must link Lagos ports down to Kano to maximize the economic benefits on that rail corridor as the value is in the freight, not passengers.