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Amaechi: Jos Airport, Railway to Receive Govt.’s Attention Soon

Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Chubuike Amaechi has reassured the people of Plateau State that the Federal government would soon turn its attention to rehabilitating the Yakubu Gowon Airport and the rail line passing Jos to Bauchi and Maiduguri, noting that it would further ease transportation to the North Eastern region of the country.

The minister, who was on a working visit to the Hiepang Inland Dry Port in Jos, assured that arrangement was on to execute the rehabilitation of the airport, but added that “What I can’t say for certain is whether funds have been released for the Jos airport or not, but I will confirm that by Monday.

“I think we were making arrangement for it, but I don’t know if that has happened; if it has not happened, it will happen this year. Now that I have been reminded, I will put my eyes there and will call the honourable Minister of state and the Permanent Secretary to ensure that that happens, because they have started work on the Port Harcourt Airport.”

On the railways, the Minister said conversations and negotiations have been concluded with General Electric (GE), an American company that the Federal Government is negotiating with to bankroll cost on rail rehabilitation; “we will rehabilitate the old narrow gauge, and the old narrow gauge starts from Port Harcourt to Anambra, Umuahia, to Enugu to Jos to Bauchi and then to Maiduguri. 

“That will cover here temporarily while we look for money for standard gauge. The difference between standard gauge and narrow gauge is the speed. One is 80 km/hr., while the other is 220 to 350km/hr. Depending on what you can afford to build.”

 Amaechi was responding to the request by the Governor of the state, Mr. Simon Lalong for the federal government to hasten to conclude ongoing rehabilitation work on the Airport.

 Lalong had said, “I want to use this opportunity to express the concerns of the people of Plateau state with regards to our airport; sometimes we would hear that it’s an international airport, other times, we would hear that it is not. From history, Jos airport happens to be one of the first graded airports in this country. But unfortunately, the airport is as it was in the 80s.

“Honourable minister, our first request is we want the ongoing construction work on the airport to be concluded immediately, so we can take advantage of it. The state can also come in where necessary to intervene.

“The second one is the railway. When we saw the railway from Kaduna to Abuja, all the travelers from Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, and Maiduguri became eager to see the same type constructed from Abuja to Jos; just Abuja to Jos will be enough to accommodate six or seven states of Taraba, Gombe Adamawa, Bauchi, and the whole of northeast. And I am sure if you do that, it will take care of the insurgency in the North.”

Earlier, the Group Managing Director of Duncan group of companies, Dr. Godfrey Bawa Shitgurum, handing the project of the Inland Port described the sustenance of the work on the project as a result of the resilience and commitment of the company to see that the state fully benefits from activities of the port.

He said, “Our gathering here today would have been to commission the port. However, in spite of the draw back experienced, we have been greatly encouraged by the support and the favourable environment created by this administration to mover the project forward.

“With a land mass of 33.7 hectares and a capacity to handle 20,000 (TEUs), this dry port will be a game changer in the economic architecture of the region. Apart from generating revenue to the state and federal government, the port, when fully operational will create employment, expand economic value chain and open new business opportunities to the citizens. Also, it will bring internal trade to the state, lower freight rates, earn foreign exchange and create multi-model transport system.”