By Suleiman Idris, Lagos and Albert Akoka
The ongoing railway modernization programme of the President Muhammad Buhari administration was boosted with the ground breaking ceremony for the establishment of a wagon assembly plant in Kajola town, Ogun state at the weekend.
Vice President Yomi Osibanjo, who performed the ceremony, said aside the creation of an estimated 5, 000 jobs, the plant is central in the production of rolling stocks, spare parts and maintenance equipment needed for the railway modernisation being currently undertaken by the federal government.
The Nigerian number two citizen said the Kajola plant, a private investment of the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) when completed will produce some parts of the wagons for the Lagos-Ibadan and Kaduna-Abuja rail lines, and also for the centre rail lines and satisfy the needs of other operators within the West Africa sub region and others across the African continent.
He said “This ceremony is not just another event but an historic turning point for the President for whom the railway project is a passion. The rail is not just an alternative and comfortable mode of travel, it holds the master key to transforming commerce in Nigeria and across the continent by linking our ports to rail lines and that we are building the rolling stocks locally, import and export business within and out of Africa largest business market will be transformed.”
He informed the construction firm of President Buhari’s desire to see them move on very quickly to the next phase of the project which is the assembly and construction of coaches and locomotives.
The President affirmed that “it will be a significant breakthrough and we look forward to hearing from you as quickly as possible when this will come into operations as well.”
Speaking further, the VP said , the “ siting of the plant here in Nigeria and the commitment of hiring Nigerians and Nigerian businesses affirmed the President directive in executive order five on prioritizing Nigerians and Nigerian businesses in the innovation, production and procurement of engineering projects and services.
The plant will offer an important platform for engineers, technicians, artisans and other professionals to gain the specialized skills for the production and maintenance of rolling stock. This will invariably conduce to spin up businesses in the region of the production in particular and across the country wherever rail networks are in existence.”
Managing Director of CCECC in Nigeria, Mr. pledged the company’s commitment to the development of the rail system in the country.
He said “We pledge the commitment of CCECC toward the economic development of Nigeria. During the past years, CCECC commits to spare no efforts to cooperate with the Nigerian government.”
He said the concept of the wagon assembly plant is local technology and making Nigeria not only self sufficient in certain components.
“The plant will play an important role in ensuring the provision of wagons, the social-economic benefits of the plant cannot be over emphasis. It will bring development not only to Kajola but also the south west in general.”
According to him, “The plant has the capacity to produce 500 wagons per year. We are undertaking key production process like wielding, painting, drying and testing as well as assembling. It has the capacity to produce open wagon containers wagons, flat, tank and box wagons. The company is working with relevant agency to ensure the railway technology development of the country.”