By Ignatius Ushie
In its bid to improve and develop the national industrial development and the national railway industry for the realization of localized production of wagons that will also strengthen the Nigeria rail sector as well as generate employment opportunities for the teaming youths, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo recently perfumed a ground breaking in Kajola Ogun state for the construction of wagon assembling plant for railway system in the country.
Osinbajo while performing the ground breaking ceremony stated that rail system of transportation “hold the master key to transforming commerce in Nigeria and across the continent by linking our ports to rail lines”, adding that “building the rolling stock locally, import and export business within, into and out of Africa’s largest market will never be the same.
According to him, “When completed, it is expected that the plant would produce some parts of the wagons for the Lagos – Ibadan and Abuja – Kaduna rail lines, but also for the central rail lines and to satisfy the needs of other rail operators within the West- African sub-region’ he noted.
Osibanjo explained that “citing of the plant here in Nigeria and the commitment to hiring Nigerians and Nigerian businesses affirms the President’s directives in Executive Order 5 on prioritizing Nigerians and Nigerian businesses in the innovation, production and procurement of Engineering projects and services. The plant would offer an important platform for engineers, technicians, artisans and other professionals to gain the specialized skills required for the production and maintenance of rolling stock.
“This will invariably conduce to spin-off businesses in the region of operation and across the country wherever rail networks are in existence. The plant is expected to generate about 5,000 direct and indirect jobs”.
Speaking on Abuja-Kaduna rail, the Vice President explained that “after completing the Abuja – Kaduna Railway project in July 2016, the President Buhari’s administration commenced construction works on the Lagos – Ibadan Railway modernization project in March 2017.
“Following which, we initiated the rehabilitation and completion of the abandoned Itakpe – Ajaokuta – Warri rail line which was started over three decades ago”, adding that “last month, we signed an agreement with Messrs China Railway Construction Company International to construct the Itakpe – Ajaokuta rail line which will be extended from Itakpe to Abuja through Baro Inland Water Port in Niger State with a branch line to Lokoja in Kogi State. This rail line will link into the new Warri sea port being constructed under the agreement”.
Speaking earlier, the minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi expressed gratitude for the VP’s presence at the event and called for the cooperation of the host community with the construction firm noting that the firm is a complete investment of the CCECC that requires the cooperation of the host community for the realization of project.
According to Amaechi. “the Ministry of Transportation realizing the need of the advantage to set up this type of plant considering the potential need in view of the on-going rail projects in the country and the sub-region encouraged Messrs CCECC to establish this plant.
“It is expected that the plant would generate job opportunities for Nigerians and as well facilitate the much-desired objective of the government towards the local content capacity development. It was in the pursuit of these objectives that the Federal Ministry of Transportation signed an agreement with Messrs. CCECC Nig. Limited in March, 2018 to establish this plant for the production and assembling of rolling stock, spare parts and maintenance equipment in Nigeria. Consequently, Messrs. CCECC conducted a feasibility study in which the choice of Kajola, Ogun State was arrived at as the suitable location for the project.
“This project is therefore a direct investment of Messrs. CCECC Nig. Ltd in the country and would remain as part of the gains from the contract signed for the Supply of rolling stock. This will be the first of its kind in Nigeria and the first batch of the wagons to be assembled from the production line of this plant will form part of the rolling stock for Lagos – Ibadan and Abuja – Kaduna Railway operations. Subsequently, other rolling stock would be produced as its production capacities increase.”
Kajola, the host community is in high spirit and of the view that the citing of the plant will improve infrastructure in the community. Transport Day checks reveals that the community lacks basic infrastructure like good roads, electricity, and portable water among others.
Esther Bolarinwa and Mr. Samuel Adeshina, both locals, told Transport Day that, they are happy with the government for citing the wagon plant in Kajola but want the government to come to their aid by providing electricity for them. “We are happy with the Buhari government, the Minister of Transportation is a very kind man, we want him to help us tell the President to give us light, we know Amaechi can do it, he is very committed to this project” they said.