Governor of Kano state north western Nigeria, Dr. Umar Ganduje has said that the multi- billion naira light rail project to be contracted in the state will take off as soon as it is given presidential approval.
The governor said constitutionally the federal government would have to approve of the project before it commences.
The Federal Government is going to be the guarantor of the loan, so, once these things are ironed out, the project will kick-start.
Kano state government and China Railway Company Group, CR18G-CRECG had signed a 15 percent and 85 percent financing agreement last month on the light rail project.
Ganduje who just returned from China and Saudi Arabia at a media briefing said a 13-man Implementation Committee on the light rail project headed by an industrialist, Alhaji Isyaku Umar Tofa has been constituted.
He described the outcome of trip to China as very successful stressing that the light rail project is part of the move to make Kano a mega city
A mega-city is based on the services that are provided within the city and light rail is one of them. So, we are praying we shall succeed.
The Governor was quick to admonish those condemning the light rail project to think of the immediate and futuristic economic and social impact of the project on the lives of the people of Kano and stop being political.
He said in China the team did a thorough job to ensure the success of the project as they held meeting with three banks�the Bank of China, China Development Bank and China Import and Export Bank and the three banks are competing in giving us proposals.
He stated that they also held meeting with the China Sure, an Ensuring outfit of the Chinese government which will coordinate the loan, and of course, the bank is expected to give 85 per cent of the total cost which is $1.8 billion and Kano state government is to give 15 per cent. We are negotiating on the interest, but from the look of things, the interest will not be more than three per cent, unlike in Nigeria where the interest is not below 15 per cent.
Also, the repayment period is up to 15 years; and when we calculated, then we concluded that from our increase in the Internally Generated Revenue we will be able to pay the 15 per cent and also the repayment period will start after the completion of the project, after the rolling stock is already on the ground, after the people and passengers will start enjoying and the revenue will start coming in�that is when the payment will begin and from the calculation of experts, the light-rail project will pay itself in the long run.
And after payment, then the whole infrastructure will become a huge asset to Kano state government and Kano state government will continue to get revenue from the rail system; and only God knows when the revenue collection from the rail project will finish. By the grace of God, it will continue for a very long time and forever, explained the governor
He said the Chinese construction company is a world class company that has expertise in doing the job.
We visited the headquarters, we inspected some of their projects in China and also we have seen that they are the contractors that are doing the light-rail project in Saudi Arabia and we have even entered the train which they built from Tianjin to the headquarters in China.
From our investigation, in the Great Britain, London, light-rail was established and constructed through a bank loan. The same thing in France, the same thing in Germany and the USA. Now, coming back home, in Lagos, light-rail construction is going through a bank loan, go to Port Harcourt, it is going on through a bank loan, even the Federal Government is constructing speed rail from Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna to Kano�the contract has been signed and it is from bank loan.
Even the one from Abuja to Kaduna which has been completed is from loan. So, anybody who thinks light rail can be developed within a metropolitan city without bank loan, that person is ignorant of the modern day development. So, I assure the people that we are bent in making Kano a mega-city because a mega-city is not only based on population.
Source: Voice of Nigeria