By Dirisu Yakubu & Omeiza Ajayi
The 1,402 kilometres Lagos-Calabar rail line, for the second consecutive year, failed to get the nod of the Federal Government as there was no provision for its take-off in the 2022 federal budget estimate.
The project involves railway platforms, 22 railway stations, including ancillary facilities, installation of safety systems, electrical and lightening systems administrative space, and level crossings.
In March 2021, while delivering the 34th convocation lecture of the University of Calabar, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi disclosed that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government was on the verge of signing a loan agreement for the take-off of the project, expressing optimism that in no time, contractors would be mobilized to site.
Four months later, Amaechi disclosed that the London-based Standard Chartered Bank had agreed to finance the construction of the project $11billion out of the $14.4billion required for the implementation of the project, an amount ratified by the Federal Executive Council in August, 2021.
Meanwhile, passengers plying the various railway corridors across the country may now heave a sigh of relief as government approved N500million for the procurement of spare parts, including lubricants for locomotive coaches and wagons.
It will be recalled that in June 2021, passengers travelling along the Kaduna-Abuja corridor were left stranded when the train conveying them developed a mechanical failure in Dutse, where it was packed before repairs commenced. The train took off at Rigasa, Kaduna with passengers heading for the Kubwa, Idu train stations, both in the Federal Capital Territory. The development caused anxiety owing to the spate of security challenges in Kaduna State in the past few years.
In another development, the Federal Ministry of Transportation has embraced performance/enterprise content management systems introduced by the Federal Government through the Office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, with a total sum of N100million approved for the implementation in the 2022 budget.
The initiative, aimed at enhancing staff contribution to service delivery is also expected to bring about healthy competition among staff members of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, particularly in the area of innovation.
Similarly, the sum of N45million was approved for the review of the 25-Year Railway Strategic Plan. Part of this plan is the unbundling and commercialization of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC.
The unbundling is expected to drive competition in the industry, provide job opportunities and improve asset/ infrastructure maintenance. Four subsidiaries are targeted to emerge from the unbundling exercise, including regulatory, infrastructure (network creation, upgrade and maintenance), operations and service (rolling stock operations, rolling stock creation and procurement and rolling stock maintenance.
Federal Government also set aside the sum of N131million for the engagement of a transaction advisor to drive the concession of the construction of Abuja-Baro-Itakpe corridor and the segment of Aladja-Warri Port as well as the Kano-Maradi rail line.
Interior ministry to spend N60m on gym Also, The Ministry of Interior has proposed to spend the sum of N60million on the construction of gym centres with recreational facilities in the 2022 budget.
While the item has as its code, “ERGP29174737,” another item with code number “ERGP9174798” will see the ministry expend N90 million on the development of a security and operational 5-year Strategic Plan.
Meanwhile, other maintenance services will gulp N420, 950, 885 and Motor Fuel Cost will take N587, 197, 500. The ministry will also expend about N134,971, 440 on fuel plants and generators.
On its part, the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, is to spend over N209.5 million on uniforms and other clothing in the 2022 budget. It will spend over N76.5 million on the supply of food stuffs and catering materials. The Service will, however, expend another N10.7 million on “Refreshments and Meals” while its security charges will gulp N71.65million.