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Nigerians welcome railway construction deal with China

Updated: Dec 5,2014 11:11 PM     Xinhua

LAGOS — Nigerians from all walks of life have been commending the Chinese government for its unwavering support toward the country and Africa in general after the signing of a deal worth nearly $12 billion to build a railway along the West African nation’s coast.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub, Kola Balogun, the Chairman of Momas Electricity Meters Manufacturing Limited (MEMMCOL) said he was proud of China’s track record in its support to Africa, saying the project is expected to make the movement of citizens, goods and services easier across the country.

He suggested the Chinese government to encourage Chinese company to make professional impact and transfer technology to local workers.

“It is a good one that China is fast building a strong partnership with Nigeria,” he added, noting that the country’s diplomatic and economic ties with China date back to the 1970s keeps going from strength to strength.

While expressing satisfaction on the deal, Olawuyi Kolawole, Managing Director of Gasolak, described the project as a significant milestone in the history of Nigeria.

“I have been to some major cities in China, like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. For me, I think we have a lot to gain and I can’t wait to start seeing the rail system working in Nigeria,” he added.

He however called on the Chinese investors to transfer technological skills to Nigeria as this would enable the country to maintain infrastructure when they are gone.

Reacting to the deal, Bamanga Tukur, Chairman, Board of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), assured the citizens of the country that transforming railway system was President Goodluck Jonathan’s topmost priority, saying the Nigerian leader had intensified efforts toward transforming the railway system to give it a new and dynamic face.

According to him, Nigerians can get a new, vibrant, dynamic and consistent railway system very soon.

He said revitalizing the railway system would facilitate job creation, boost business activities and strengthen bond of relationship among Nigerians.

The planned 1,400-kilometer railway, to be built by the state firm China Railway Construction Corp, would run from the main city of Lagos in the west to the southeastern port of Calabar.

The project will create up to 200,000 local jobs directly or indirectly for Nigeria. Up to 30,000 fixed job posts may also be provided when the railway is operational.

It was the single biggest foreign infrastructure deal in Nigeria ever signed with China.

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