• 17 April 2022
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By Gabriel Ewepu | 17 April 2022

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Being a legacy project, the Kaduna-Kano rail project is well conceived by the Buhari-led administration, and has proven to be a game changer that would galvanize the nation’s economy in all facets, because it has potential to create massive job opportunities for the teeming population of youth across the country, resuscitating moribund industries in northern and southern Nigeria, diversify the economy, and unlock the massive agricultural potential the country.

The decision by President Muhammadu Buhari, to award this railway contract from Lagos to Kano, spanning eight sections to a global and highly reputable construction giant, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation Nigeria Limited, CCECC, is commendable, because CCECC with its vast experience and professionalism in executing critical projects as such across the world for over 40 years of its existence indicates a new vista for economic rebirth.

The company after mobilizing to site has thrived hard to ensure the project is completed and Nigerians begin to utilize it. Under the challenge of insufficient funds, CCECC overcame difficulties, mobilized high-quality resources of manpower and equipment, and pushed forward construction with all their might toward the established goals.

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The company also attested to the friendliness, hospitality and cooperation of host communities, and appreciated President Muhammadu Buhari, the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, and the community chiefs for giving it the enabling environment to execute the project, and promised to do its best in completing the project.

And also assured of its capacity to accomplish the task according to the terms and conditions of the contract, and this has been proven despite the challenges it faces.

The Kaduna-Kano Rail Project Execution and Impact

The Project Coordinator, CCECC, Mark XU, said this railway construction is going to run from Kaduna all the way to Kano, it is a segment of the Lagos to Kano Railway project.

XU said: “This will provide the northward extension of Abuja-Kaduna Railway. The length is approximately 200.11km.The project is the standard gauge railway with a design speed of 150 km/h.

“After completion, there will be great improvement in transportation efficiency of Abuja to Kano Railway, which will meet the demand for medium to long-distance and large-density transportation service in this country.

“The project will promote the service capability of transportation infrastructure, improve the national railway network, and optimize the regional comprehensive transportation system.

“The scope of work includes subgrade, bridges and culverts, track laying, station building, power supply, communication and signal-ling system, etc.

“This is going to play an important role in strengthening the links between coastal port cities and other inland areas, promoting the export of agricultural and mineral products, and transporting imported materials to the inland areas. It is the most reliable, most efficient means of transportation.

“The operation of this rail line will facilitate mass movement of passengers particularly the middle-class Nigerians, which is arguably the largest in number. It will reduce the traffic pressure on the road, lower the rate of road accidents and promote safety of travelers. The project construction will help increase the service level of transportation infrastructure and build a national railway backbone network.

“In terms of Cargo, the project will help to build the railway collecting and distributing system at rear areas of Lagos Port, facilitate the development of the port and promote the development of export-oriented economy along the line.”

He also explained that, “With regards to states linked by this line, the project will help promote resource development, industrialization and urbanization along the line, and facilitate economic development of states along the region.

“It is of great significance to strengthen the links between the states along the line, enhance the radiation effect of the central city Lagos on the northern region, and promote the harmonious development of the regional economy.

“The project also has direct impact on the locals, it has provided jobs for thousands of people in remote areas, someone in Yako Village for example, won’t have to come to city to seek for job, job meets them at their door steps. Due to the nature of sophisticated equipment used, the project hits the nail on skill acquisition, which entails teaching more youth machine operation.

“If security is stabilized, this will also boost tourism, some Nigerians in the south have never been to the north and vice versa. So, if this is completed and security is back to saner climes, we will move around comfortably, thereby enhancing unity in diversity and multi-cultural tolerance which will eventually have significant impact on the economy.”

Massive Employment by CCECC

CCECC has employed over 3000 local staff, and according to the work progress, the number of direct local employee may reach 23,000.

“Currently, we have employed over 3000 local staff and according to the work progress, the number of direct local employee may reach 23,000. On the other hand, the local inhabitants along the railway involve the project may reach as same amount for business and services in kinds”, XU said.

One of the women in Madobi town, headquarters of Madobi Local Government Area of Kano State who is a food vendor, Philomena Samuel, said, “We were idle in this community, but now we have been productive by selling food and drinks to the workers at this site, which we are using the profit to take care of our children’s school fees and keeping the family running.”

CCECC’s Prioritizes Corporate Social Responsibility

The company has been awake and alive to its Corporate Social Responsibility, CRS, which the Project Coordinator, CCECC, Mark XU said, “Social responsibility programme currently is focusing on railway sustainability, such as the construction of Transport University and Wagon Assembling Plant in Katsina and Ogun States respectively. Besides, about 295 Nigerian students were sponsored by our company to study Railway and Civil Engineering in China.

“This is typically a technology transfer covering civil engineering, mechanical and electrical. These students are expected to come back and take over lecturing in the Transport University.”

He also added that, “We have also trained over 1000 local staff at different levels to ensure the operation and maintenance work in the future.”

Sponsoring Capacity Building of Nigerian Undergraduates

The company has sponsored Nigerian undergraduates to acquire knowledge and expertise to man Nigeria’s rail system through capacity  building in different aspects of railway transportation.

 ”In 2018, CCECC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, to sponsor 45 students to complete their bachelor’s degree in China. Those 45 students came back in 2020 with respective degrees in Civil Engineering, Traffic and Transport Engineering, and Traffic, Equipment and Control Engineering. They were exposed to first-hand technology to curb the operation and maintenance lapses in the railway sector”, XU said.

Conserving Foreign Exchange by locally sourcing materials

At Section 4 of the project in Gimi-Gari, Makarfi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, the company has a large expanse of land used for offices, accommodation and fabrication site that is used for the production of beams and slippers.

It produces two pieces of beams per day and 50, 000 sleepers in one month for the rail project. But the company depends on diesel for the job to continue.

This site has speed up the project, and it indicates the doggedness and determination of the company to ensure completion at the stipulated time and also to see that this project is a game changer in Nigeria’s economy. The company also sources materials locally, hence preventing capital flight. Interestingly, the Public Relations Officer, for Kaduna-Kano Rail Project, Mohammed Aliyu, said work on site is on a 24 hour basis as workers round the clock despite security challenges.

Community Leaders speak on impact of project, relationship with CCECC

The District Head of Madobi, Saleh Musa Saleh Kwankwaso, Madobi Local Government Area of Kano State,  said, “The impact of this rail project in my community is a very welcomed development, which has improved the rural economy including security of lives and prosperity of my people.

“We have three terminal in Madobi LGA; Madobi, Kwankwaso and Chalawa. The terminus in Madomi is mainly for cargo, and it is basically agricultural produce transported to Lagos and other parts of the country.

 ”There is a lot of impact of this project, and also the company has employed most of our people and they are benefiting, and they source their local materials from our people including laterite and lime, and this has improved our economy.”

However, he appealed to the Federal Government to make funds available to complete the project at the stipulated time, because any delay that will lead to additional cost.

Also, the Village Head of Gimi-Gari, Makarfi Local Government Area, Kaduna State, Abdullahi Ibrahim Gimi, said, “We are very grateful for this project in our community, particularly the youths are been employed, and it has boost the economy in my community including neighbouring communities, also there is life in the people.

“We also have very good relationship with CCECC because they listen to me and also I do same, and there has never being any rancour between us. I thank the management in spite of the insecurity because they go on with the work without any fear.”

He also added that the government should deploy more security men to the company for the project to be completed.

Appeal for more deployment of security personnel

The Public Relations Officer, for Kaduna-Kano Rail Project, CCECC, Mohammed Aliyu, said, however, as a national challenge, insecurity is threatening the smooth execution and completion of the project, but affirmed the company’s commitment to carry out the project with the presence of the Nigerian Army, Nigerian Police Force, and local vigilante giving them security shield.

“I am calling on the Federal Government to give maximal attention to this very project so that the project would be completed to douse this security issue.

“It is also important for the government to provide adequate security to the company executing the project, and also when completed there is need to install mechanisms that would send alert signals to the train drivers to avoid running into the trap of terrorists. “In addition, insecurity is on the rise around our construction site, especially Kaduna area. However, we still mobilize and coordinate every resource to focus on the construction day and night with double shifts.

Meanwhile, it is also highly recommended that the Federal Government include in the contract security devices installed by CCECC in the rail tracks that would send signal to the train driver and his crew members, security agencies about danger ahead.

Beneficiaries of Capacity Building testify

Meanwhile, one of those 45 students that benefited from the training by CCECC from ABU, Zaria, Abah Adamu Lawal, a Civil Engineer, specialized in Track Irregularities Analysis, said they were sponsored to study in China by CCECC under the first joint degree programme in Nigeria while he was in 300 Level to study Railway Engineering between 2018 and 2020, and currently he works with CCECC. “CCECC sponsored the programme, and currently, other students are studying in China, who will graduate in 2023, and they are trained as lecturers to man the Transport Universities in Daura and Port Harcourt.

“And all of the 45 students that CCECC sponsored to study in China are all employed by the company”, Lawal added.