Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, the Minister of Transportation, while delivering the ministry’s scorecard in Abuja yesterday, November 7th, said the Federal Government will borrow money to facilitate the completion of rail projects in the country.
According to him: “We don’t have the money, we are going to borrow anyway, so, we thought whatever the standard gauge will give us, the narrow gauge will also give us.”
In response to a question on why the South-East was only given access to small gauge rail lines, the minister said that the zone had not been given less priority in the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.)-led administration’s rail projects.
“There is no deliberate attempt whatsoever to marginalise the South-East and if anything, that is the one part of the country that has benefited the most from PMB infrastructure projects.
“The narrow gauge you probably are referring to is the one that runs from Maiduguri, all the way through Jos, up to Port Harcourt.
“If that is the one you are talking about, first of all, I will let you know that Maiduguri, Jos, and several other cities the rail lines traversed are not in the South-East.”
He also said there is the narrow gauge contract “that was being considered by my predecessor in office,” which had two options — “either to rehabilitate the narrow gauge at a cost of about $3 billion or to do a standard gauge at a cost of about $12 billion.”
Speaking further, he said that the pros and cons of the corridor, the narrow gauge would convey more cargo, adding that the only difference between the narrow gauge and the standard gauge was the speed.
Justifying his position that the South-East zone benefited the most, the minister said, “the Buhari-led administration constructed the second Niger Bridge that had defied all previous governments.”