THE Nigerian government is set to retake the initiative with its standard gauge railway (SGR) project by allocating funds to cover the cost of the Kano – Kaduna section following delays by the Export-Import Bank (Exim) of China to approve a $US 5.3bn loan for the project that has been pending for close to two years. 

Transport minister, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, says the country has opted to turn to the government budget in order to commence construction of the Kano - Kaduna section in July. The line is budgeted at $US 3bn and the government will fund a third of this cost this year with construction set to be carried out by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).  

The 2733km Lagos - Kano project is budgeted at $US 11.3bn. The line will connect the Port of Lagos with the interior of the country, running parallel with the existing 1067mm-gauge line. It is being developed in segments under the 25-year rail development master plan and Amaechi says the line will not make economic sense unless the entire project is implemented.   

The $US 1.5bn, 156km Lagos - Ibadan section is set to be commissioned this month after trials began in December. 

The line was funded by a $US 1.3bn loan from the Exim Bank of China and $US 200m from the Nigerian government. 

Other planned sections of the project are the 200km Ibadan – Ilorin link, the 270km Ilorin - Minna section, and the section from Minna to Kaduna.  

The first 186.5km section of standard-gauge railway in Nigeria opened between Abuja and Kaduna in July 2016. 

For detailed data on rail projects in Nigeria and around Africa, subscribe to IRJ Pro.