Vanguard reports that the Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, yesterday, said that the decision of Aliko Dangote to set up a $100 million trucks assembly plant in Lagos was out of frustration due to the country’s railway projects delay.
Ameachi stated this when he received in audience a delegation of General Electric, GE and other companies in respect of the planned concession of the old narrow gauge rail lines in his office in Abuja.
The Minister, who opened discussion with GE said that the railway issue pushed Dangote to assemble heavy duty trucks for distribution of its products both locally and across the continent, Vanguard reports.
According to him, “It was frustration of the railway delay that made Dangote to go into assembling of trucks to distribute his products.”
Amaechi Amaechi said that government was currently negotiating with GE and other companies that had indicated interest to take over the Lagos-Kano and Port Harcourt- Maiduguri narrow gauge through concession.
Ameachi said: “The deal was initially put at $2 billion but now I cannot tell how much it will be worth. That is why we have opened talks. Negotiation is on and it is only after then that we can talk of the deal.
“We are saying that between now and when the deal will happen, can the GE revive the 25 locomotives that we have to get them to work and work efficiently? The 25 locomotives have been there for a long time and we are trying to see if they can revive them and maintain them to increase the capacity of the Nigerian Railway Corporation so that people can travel easily from Lagos to Kano or Port Harcourt to Maiduguri fairly.”
“We are going to concession the narrow gauge and if it is GE that we are going to concession it to, they will bring in everything,” he said.
The minister also confirmed that the government had released N76 billion as counterpart funding for Lagos-Ibadan rail, adding that the government had also received approval for China Exim Bank for the project, Vanguard reports.
Discussing with the GE team, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway, NRC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria, said that the concession of the rail line was open, adding that the corporation had advertised for people to show interest.