President Muhammadu Buhari has assured to fully connect the North-South trading route by standard gauge railway before the end of 2021.
Buhari stated this yesterday at the International Association of Ports and Habour (IAPH) conference hosted by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in Abuja.
The president also said he has directed that every seaport should have the complement of rail infrastructure to aid the seamless movement of cargo.
The conference is the first in the African Region of the IAPH. It has the theme, ‘African Ports and Hinterland Connectivity’.
Established in 1955, IAPH promotes development of ports and creates worldwide synergy for effectiveness among member countries through strong ties.
President Buhari, who declared the conference open, also said there were discussions between Nigeria and other African countries for urgent investments that support multi-modal transport means between ports and hinterland.
He hoped that the IAPH conference would serve as an avenue for the generation of ideas that would aid national governments to formulate effective policies.
The President said: “This administration that I am privileged to lead is committed to rebuilding infrastructure that supports multimodal means of transportation from the ports to the hinterland. We understand that this interconnectivity will improve the country’s economic competitiveness as targeted under the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
“I have directed that every port must have the complement of rail infrastructure. Our projection is that by the end of 2021, we will have standard gauge railway across the main North-South trading route,” Buhari stated.
Welcoming the participants, the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, said IAPH employed certain strategies including facilitating interactions and idea sharing to strengthen relationships among member ports.
Usman, who is also the Vice President of IAPH said, “There is no doubt that Africa holds a special place in the global maritime space. With 39 of the 54 countries on the continent endowed with littoral assets, the development of the continent is to a large extent, tied to the optimal exploitation of its vast maritime resources.”
She noted further that the conference gave Africa the opportunity to explore ways of cooperation for the development of her ports and the economies of member countries.
“One of the determining factors for the relevance of ports is the speed and seamlessness with which owners of cargo are able to move their consignments out of the ports and Africa really does still have a lot of work to do in this area,” Hadiza noted.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, at the event said with the development of dry ports in Kano and Kaduna connected directly by rail, cargoes and containers will now easily transit to every part of Northern Nigeria.
He said the rail would also extend to Chad and Niger republics, which he said is a determination on the part of government to promote trans-shipment of cargoes to neighbouring countries.