The Federal Government is expected to take delivery of the first batch of 10 Coaches, out of the 64 coaches expected from China in June 2019 to augment the available Coaches at the Nigerian Railway Corporation and for deployment to the Standard Gauge Rail lines in the Country, particularly, Abuja-Kaduna rail line to reduce the congestion created by the activities of Bandits and Kidnappers on the Abuja-Kaduna Highway.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi on Saturday, April 27, 2019, when he led a delegation to China to inspect the pace of work on the construction of those Coaches at the Chinese Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) Tangshan Co., Ltd, China.
The Federal Government entered into contract agreement with the company in December 2017 to produce 64 coaches to serve the immediate needs of the Standard Gauge Rail Lines in the Country and 10 out of the agreed N0s are ready for delivery.
The Minister requested that the available 10 coaches be delivered to Nigeria latest June, 2019 for deployment to the various Standard Gauge Rail lines in the Country.
According to him, “We need Coaches by June latest. We need Coaches that can carry men from one point to another and we need a minimum of 10 coaches now out of the 64”.
“I requested for 10 coaches now because we need to improve on Abuja-Kaduna line. If the 10 doesn’t come, there is nothing I can do but it has to come because they have to manufacture for us to use on the Abuja-Kaduna Line and again, on Lagos-Ibadan Rail Line which will soon be ready pending when the construction of the remaining Coaches will be completed”.
Amaechi, however noted that the pace of work is slow and urged the manufacturers to improve on it, adding that the contract which was signed in December 2019 to manufacture 64 Coaches for Nigeria was supposed to have expired in February 2019.
“The pace of construction is slow and they need to improve on it. In fact the contract has expired, we may not have paid all the money but we paid quite a substantial sum and therefore they should construct speedily”, he said.
On his part, the General Manager, CRRC Tangshan Co., Ltd, Mr. Zhou Junnian expressed excitement over the visit of the Nigerian delegation to the CRRC and for their trust.
Mr. Junnian explained that the passenger coach components are 100 percent from China, adding that materials for works depend on the speed of the product and the customer requirements.
In the same vein, the Minister also visited the CRRC Shandong, to inspect the Cargo Wagons being built for Nigeria, where he disclosed that there was a verbal agreement with the CCECC to localise the Railway industry in Nigeria which was supposed to produce 15% of the Coaches, Locomotives and Wagons.
He said, “We had a verbal agreement for them to produce 15 % of the Coaches, Locomotives and Wagons, they came back and said it was too expensive to establish Locomotives and Coaches factory and that we can start with Wagon and do 100 % assembly in Nigeria for the first five (5) years, after which, they will now build a factory that will manufacture wagons in Nigeria.
“It is not part of the contract we signed in 2017 but I insisted that for me to sign, they must localise it to create more jobs and reduce the expenditure of foreign exchange.
“We have to go further to ask them if we can own it, we have not talked about ownership but what we said is, localise it. Even though they are using their profit to build it, you can make them hand over the ownership to Nigeria and for the Assembly plant, Kajola in Ogun State has been chosen for the factory”, he said.
Amaechi, further directed that the Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) Engr. Fidet Okhiria ensure that land is made available to CCECC before May 8, 2019 for the Wagon factory.
Earlier, the Chairman CRRC Shandong, Mr. Wang Zichong while speaking on the progress of the Nigerian Wagon design and manufacturing, noted that the design has been completed and have also procured some materials and prototype and manufacturing will start as early as possible, adding that the specification for Nigeria’s localisation workshop has been completed.
On when the Assembly plant workshop can be completed, he stated that it can be done in six months if given the land on time.
The delegation to China who visited the CRRC Tangshan Steel Structure Workshop, General Assembly Workshop 1, Commissioning workshop and the Engineering Experiment Centre, as well as the CRRC Shandong Wagon workshop include; the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Ameachi, the Minister of Finance, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Sen. Olugbenga Ashafa, Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Engr. Fidet Okhiria, Director, Rail and Transport Services in the Ministry of Transportation, Engr. Muhammed Babakobi and other important dignitaries.