The Federal Government, recently, announced that it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mota-Engil Group to construct the 283.75 Kano-Maradi standard-gauge rail at a contract cost of $1.959 billion.
A press release by the Federal Ministry of Transportation said the line would traverse Jigawa and Katsina to get to Maradi in the Niger Republic.
The contract sum breakdown shows that it will cost the Federal Government approximately $6.91 million (or N2.6 billion) per km to deliver the project expected to be ready in the next three years.
An investigation has shown that the average cost per kilometre (km) of the newly contracted Kano-Maradi rail line exceeds similar projects under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), as estimated by the African Union (AU) by, at least, 100 per cent.
Findings have shown that it is much cheaper to deliver similar projects in other parts of Africa. More importantly, the quotation for a similar distance under Africa’s rail connectivity programme being discussed at the continental level is less than half of what Nigeria will spend to execute a bilateral project but which the country has chosen to shoulder alone.
In an AU document titled ‘Towards the African Integrated High-Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN) Development’, the Union estimates the new railway line needs of the continent at 12, 000km, which are expected to be completed at a cost outlay of $36 billion.
At the estimated cost, the quote per km of rail track is $3 million, which is 57 per cent less than what the Nigerian Government, which has been part of the AU rail programme conceptualisation, will pay the Portuguese-owned Mota-Engil Group for the Nigeria-Niger rail contract.
The PIDA framework is part of the African Regional Transport Infrastructure Network (ARTIN) development, consisting of the nine Trans-African Highways and 40 key corridors. There have been multilateral treaties and endorsements leading to the drafting of the implementation roadmap.
PIDA specifies critical rail infrastructure, which is consistent with the overall cost estimation. There is the Dakar-N’djamena-Djibouti Corridor Trans-African Highway whose rail component is estimated to cover 5,139 km and estimated at $14.050 billion or at $2.7 million per kilometre. This is much lower than any new rail project being executed in Nigeria.
A transport consult and railways specialist, Roland Ataugba said that there is no justification for why Nigeria’s rail projects cost more than similar projects in any parts of the world.
Rolland, who is vast in Nigeria’s rail project history, said: “The contracts were not competitively procured. They were mostly outcomes of political agreements between the presidents of Nigeria and China. The absence of competition in tendering does not incentivise keenness in pricing.”