..As first set of wagons roll out for freight services.
By Silas Onuoha
The Federal Government in demonstration of its commitment to revitalize and ensure sustainability of the ongoing railway modernization project has commissioned the Kajola Wagon Assembly Plant in Ogun State.
President Muhammadu Buhari who performed the commissioning of the project, coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Transportation expressed immense pleasure over project which was conceived and flagged off in November 8, 2019, by the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osibanjo.
Furthermore, the President said it will not only generate the needed employment but will boost economic opportunities for the citizenry as it will promote and develop local capacity in Assembling and Manufacturing of Rolling Stock.
The President who was represented by the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, said the project is in compliance with the Presidential Executive Order No. 5 that stipulates “companies’ involvement in infrastructure development within the country to ensure transfer of technology to Nigeria”.
It is line with this Order that the Federal Ministry of Transportation in March, 2018 signed an agreement with Messrs. China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) to facilitate the establishment of the plant with the Federal Government providing an enabling environment and necessary support in terms of Tax Waivers, Utilities (Power and Water Supply), Access Road and Rail Sidings amongst others.
According to the President, the Locomotive and Rolling Depot has the capacity to produce 500 Wagons per year of Open Wagons, Container Flat Wagons and Box Wagons, adding that the first set of Wagons assembled in Nigeria are being rolled out for freight services.
The “advantages of setting up the plant is the potential to be provided by the on-going rail projects in the country and Sub-African Region which will generate significant demand for Nigerians Rolling Stock” Buhari observed.
“With the milestone achieved, we are seriously working to open the first University of Transportation in Daura, Katsina State. The intension of this University is to ensure adequate turn out of graduates, technicians, artisans, researchers on different areas of transportation especially railway transportation to guarantee the sustainability of the massive infrastructural provision of this administration on rail transportation” the President assured.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, said: “there is no gainsaying that this is one of the landmark legacies of the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, designed to ensure the sustainability of railway development in the country”.
While assuring that the Federal Ministry of Transportation will remain committed to full implementation of Government’s Policy on Railway Modernization and expansion of transportation network, she disclosed that it will be done in an environmentally friendly system that engenders socio-economic development of the country.
Delivering a goodwill message, the Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Sen. Tolulope Odebiyi, said the former Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosu, should be lauded for ensuring that the assembly plant was built in the State.
Odebiyi said that the establishment of the wagon plant would transfer knowledge required for the sustainability of the infrastructure.
He appreciated President Buhari and the Federal Ministry of Transportation for spending the money appropriated judiciously for the completion of the project.
He lauded President Buhari, saying the infrastructure is a legacy that would never never be forgotten.
On his part, Member, National Assembly, representing Ojo Federal Consistency and House of Representative Committee on Marine Transportation, Hon. Tajudeen Adekunle Obasa, said the commissioning of the wagon plant has restored the glory of Nigeria as Giant of Africa.
In his remarks, the Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhiria, who was obviously overjoyed said the plant was a dream come true, adding that it would serve as a source for replacement of faulty wagons instead of sourcing them overseas.
Okhiria, said some wagons had been delivered to NRC for trials, and have been tested and confirmed as meeting international standards.