Rotimi Amaechi has warned Nigerians that they should expect “pains” and “demolition” as he seeks to bring “development” the transport sector, which he oversees as its minister.
Speaking in Lagos on Monday at a town hall meeting organised by the federal government, Amaechi reminded the people that the reason they went for change was that “things were becoming extremely difficult and the only solution was to change the government and bring in a new set of government officials to ensure that you and I can eat”.
He promised the audience that although the change desired by Nigerians could not possibly happen in just one year, they would soon start to see an improvement in the transportation sector, as a lot of work going on in the background.
He blamed past administrations for failing to construct rail lines, saying: “The only place they tried a bit was with the one from Kaduna to Abuja, which is yet to be completed and we are working extremely hard to ensure that between June and July, we will commercialise that rail line and it will start services.
“That will reduce the challenges of production to convey goods and services between Kaduna and Abuja.”
On the Lagos-Kano rail line, he said: “Imagine that work starts on that rail line now, how many jobs will we create?
“And I can assure you that by God’s grace, before the end of the year, we will commence work on the Lagos-Kano rail line.”
Amaechi spoke on working with the private sector to complete the Itakpe-Warri rail line, which has been under construction for 32 years.
“There’s a rail line most Nigerians can’t remember easily, the Itakpe-Warri rail line. For 32 years now, Nigeria has been struggling to construct it. The ministry has decided to concession it out now,” A said.
“We have distanced the federal government from the projects and are negotiating with a Chinese company that intends to take that rail line with the Ajaokuta steel plant. They will carry it on from Itakpe down to Abuja and down to Warri seaport.”
All these developments, he cautioned, would be accompanied by their pains for the people.
“Know that this is development, because when we come, don’t forget there will be pains,” he said.
“There will be demolition of houses. If we don’t demolish, then there will be no rail lines.
“You don’t expect that I will come from Ibadan to Tin Can and I will not touch some houses. I am just saying this, so that when we begin to approach you to negotiate for you to shift the house a bit, just allow the rail line pass through.”
On aviation, he mentioned a few airports where new terminals were under construction.
“As you hit us, we hit the contractors,” he added.
“Aviation is not only about creating terminals, aviation is the ability to leave Lagos and get to Abuja safely. Before, communication was not easy. But now, you can ask the pilots, they communicate easily and freely; this means we have things under control.”
On maritime, he said: “Maritime is very challenging; too many interest groups are found in the maritime sector.
“The president has kindly agreed for me to do what is called a performance audit. We want to understand what is going on in the maritime sector: why are we not making the kind of money we can make in maritime sector?
“Why is maritime sector not funding the economy like other parts of the world? All this we will be able to answer when the performance audit is completed.”