The Minister of Transportation, Sen. Said Ahmed Alkali on Thursday, 14th December, 2023, defended a total budget of Forty Six Billion, Five Hundred and Eighty Nine Million, Seven Hundred and Eighty Five Thousand, Nine Hundred and Seventy Five (N46,589,785,975) Naira only, to the Joint Committee of the Senate and the House of Representatives on Land Transport for the Ministry and its agencies for the 2024 fiscal year.                                  

Alkali, who made this known while speaking at the National Assembly during the budget defence, also presented the 2023 Budget Performance of the Ministry, which was N91,474,422,746) for Capital Appropriation , out of which N53,405,649,354.00 representing
58..38% has been released, and  N47,426,760,923 has been utilized as of 29th November, 2023 .  

In addition, according to the Minister, the sum of N382,185,472 was appropriated for overhead expenditure, out of which N254,799,314,70 was released, adding that the sum of N248,711,874.15 of the released amount was expended as of 12th December, 2023.            

Alkali further informed the legislators that under the Railway Modernization Programme, the last administration strindently pursued the expansion of railway networks in the country. “To consolidate on the achievements recorded therefore, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s led Administration created the Ministry of Transportation, that focuses on only Land transportation, comprising of Road transport and rail transportation to close the infrastructural gap in the country and support national economic growth, create employment, generate wealth and improve the standard of living of citizens.”

The Minister revealed plans to scale up transportation and logistics value chain that is commensurate with Nigeria’s population and size. He said that this would ensure the connection of important industrial and agricultural hubs with railway networks.”

Alkali who expressed a strong hope and willingness of enhancing the transportation system in the country by addressing critical needs of the country’s rail infrastructure and propel it towards a more efficient, valuable and sustainable transport system, thus ensuring the realization of vital rail modernization in the country, decried that funding is one of the critical challenges in the sector.

“I and my team have resolved to work hard at ensuring the realization of Nigeria’s Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan, however, meeting the set target is significantly challenged by funding gap especially the background of dwindling revenue accruing to the country. In the Railway Transport Sub- sector, an investment portfolio of close to US$35 Billion is estimated as the funding requirements to meet the realization of an adequate and functioning railway transportation system, ” the Minister revealed.

Speaking further, Sen. Said Alkali said “presently, the Ministry plans to connect close to 6,000 Kilometers of Standard Gauge Railways and rehabilitating existing 3,505km Narrow Gauge Lines between the North and South, East and West Regions of the country to reach the oil and mineral resources zones, agricultural belt as well as port of origin and destination especially the Lekki Deep Sea Port. This, he said, can only be achieved effectively through investments and injecting institutional and private sector funds from the international development financing entities that will seize the opportunity to gain partners for Nigeria. Getting these funds from the international to financing institutions has, however, been challenging over the past few years. For example, the ongoing Lagos – Kano and Kano – Maradi Railway Modernization Project and the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri Eastern Narrows gauge has been slowed by funding. “The Ministry also has some debt liability of unpaid Certificates for Job Completion under the Lagos – Ibadan Railway Project,” Alkali added.     

While soliciting for favourable budget consideration, the Minister said, “I therefore seek your cooperation to ensure injection of special intervention funding for the expansion of the railway networks which is a catalyst to economic development. In pursuit of the rehabilitation and modernization programme, suitable capacity building programme by the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT), Zaria is focusing on the improvement of its basic infrastructure, increasing its research base and expansion of its training drive. To this end, the Institute is planning to acquire State of the Art equipment and complete the ongoing outreach learning centres in four (4) Geo-polutical zones of the country.”                 

Alkali seized the opportunity to further emphasize that the Ministry as part of its mandate has continued to pursue the implementation of government policies in the Land Transport Sub- sector in the country, including issues relating to the  Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the realization of the transport interconnectivity for the sub-region.                

Earlier, the Chairman, Joint Senate/House Committees on Land Transport, Sen. Mohammed Adamu Aliero in his opening remarks, welcome all to the gathering, while commending President Ahmed Bola Tinubu for creating the Ministry of Land Transport, comprising Railway and Mass Transit, saying it is the first time such is happening in the history of the country.

According to him, “Our nation’s progress is intricately tied to the efficiency and development of our transportation infrastructure, making this budget defence a pivotal moment for shaping the trajectory of our country’s future.”

Sen. Adamu Aliero, while giving the assurances that the Committees will support the Minister and the agencies to succeed, enjoined them to see to it that the budget that will be approved for the Ministry, is implemented faithfully, to deliver government’s intentions of the actualization of the President’s “Renewed Hope Agenda.” A renewed hope which must be felt in the area of land transport with particular focus on our rail transport sector and mass transit, thereby delivering democracy dividends to Nigerians.”

Olujimi Oyetomi
Director, Press & PR