President Muhammadu Buhari has said the inauguration of Kajola Wagon Station Plant would make train spare parts available all over West and Central Africa, and provide more jobs for the teeming youth.
Buhari, represented by the Minister of Transportation, Alhaji Mu’azu Sambo, said this on Monday, during the inauguration of the Kajola Assembly Plant in Ogun.
He said that the establishment of the plant was a Corporate Social Responsibility by Messrs China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Nigeria Limited in the Lagos-Ibadan Railway Modernisation Project, being a section of the Lagos-Kano Railway Project.
“With my approval, the Ministry signed an Agreement in March 2018 with Messrs. CCECC as Direct Foreign Investment (DFI) by the company in compliance with the Presidential Order No. 5 to promote companies’ involvement in infrastructure development and transfer of technology to Nigeria.
” Expectedly, the Federal Government is to facilitate the establishment of the plant by providing enabling environment and necessary support in terms of Tax Waivers, Utilities (Power and Water Supply), Access Road and Rail Sidings etc.
“This responsibility was carried out meticulously by the Nigerian Government.
“The ground breaking ceremony of the Wagon Assembly Plant was performed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, GCON on Nov. 8, 2019,” Buhari said.
The President said the wagon plant was part of the effort of the Federal Government in the promotion and development of local capacity in assembling and manufacturing rolling stock.
He said that the plant was created as a means to generate employment to boost economic opportunities for the citizenry.
According to him, the Wagon Assembly Plant is now completed and has a locomotive and rolling depot, with capacity to produce 500 wagons per year of open wagons, container flat wagons and box wagons.
He said that out of 368 various types of wagons needed and awarded to Messrs CCECC, about 220 wagons of the existing rolling stock procurement contract were to be produced at the Kajola Plant pending when the plant would be transformed to a full wagon manufacturing plant.
Buhari said further that the first set of Wagons assembled here in Nigeria were being rolled out for further deployment for freight services.
“With the milestone achieved, we are seriously working to open the first University of Transportation in Daura, Katsina State.
“The intention of this University is to ensure adequate turn out of graduates, technicians, artisans, researchers on different areas of transportation, especially railway transportation, to guarantee the sustainability of the massive infrastructural provision of this administration on rail transportation.
“We, therefore, expect that very soon, graduands of the University of Transportation, Daura and returnees from various Universities in China that were awarded scholarships by Messrs. CCECC will occupy their pride of place in the Kajola Assembly Plant,” Buhari said.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, said the Plant was expected to create employment opportunities for local key staff at top, middle and low levels, and 5,000 direct and indirect jobs.
Ajani said that the plant, with time, would be transformed to a manufacturing plant capable of producing important components of railway parts that would meet the needs of railway transportation in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
She said that this was one of the landmark legacies of the administration of President Buhari, designed to ensure the sustainability of railway development in the country.
Sen. Tolulope Odebiyi, Vice Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, said the former Governor of Ogun, Mr Ibikunle Amosu, had worked hard in ensuring that the assembly plant was built in the state..
He appreciated President Buhari and the Federal Ministry of Transportation for spending money judiciously, for the completion of the project.
Odebiyi said that the infrastructure Buhari had established in Nigeria would never be forgotten.
Rep, Tajudeen Obasa of Ojo Constituency, a member of Joint Committee of Senate and House of Representatives on Marine Transportation, said that commissioning of the wagon plant would promote Nigeria’s name as the Giant of Africa.
Obasa said that the Ninth Assembly would continue to support the President and the key stakeholders to achieve success and remain focused for the benefit of Nigeria.
In his remarks, Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr Fidet Okhiria, said the plant would serve as a home for replacement of faulty wagons instead of sourcing them overseas.
Okhiria said that the dream had come to reality, adding that wagons had been delivered to NRC for trials, and had passed the trials for usage.
He said that the first set of wagons assembled in Nigeria had been rolled out for usage.
The Deputy Director, CCECC, Mr Jaquoc Liao, said successful operation of Kajola wagon assembly plant was of great significance to the modernisation of Nigeria’s railway and the development of related industries.
Liao said that the plant would provide strong support for the development of the rail transit of Nigeria by providing all kinds of advanced modern rail logistics equipment required by modern railway network of Nigeria.
He said that the plant would export products to West Africa and even the entire African continent.