The foundation for the construction of a railway wagon assembly plant in Kajola, Ogun State, was laid on Saturday by Vice-President Yemi Osinbanjo.
Osinbajo also charged the contractor handling the project, China Civil Engineering Corporation, to start assembling locomotives and coaches in Nigeria.
It was gathered that the Kajola plant, when completed, would emerge as the largest private investment by CCECC in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Federal Ministry of Transportation had earlier stated that the plant would create 5,000 direct and indirect jobs, as well as boost the country’s foreign exchange through exports.
In his address at the groundbreaking event, the Vice-President said, “The plant which is a private investment to be undertaken by Messers CCECC, is central in the production of rolling stock needed for the railway modernisation programme being implemented by this administration.
“This ceremony is not just another event, it is a historic turning point. For us, the railway is not only an alternative and comfortable mode of travel, it holds the master key to transforming commerce in Nigeria and across the continent.”
On the assembling of coaches in Nigeria, Osinbajo stated that he was directed by President Muhammadu Buhari to tell the contractors to work towards achieving the feat.
He said, “I have a message also from the President and this is to CCECC which is that we expect that you move on very quickly to the next phase of this project which is the assembly and construction of coaches and locomotives.
“This for us will be a significant breakthrough and we will be looking forward to hearing from you as quickly as possible when this will come into operation.”
He said the plant would produce some of the parts, as well as wagons that would be deployed in the Lagos-Ibadan railway.
Osinbajo said, “By linking our ports to rail lines and now building the rolling stock locally, import and export business within, into and out of Africa’s largest market will never be the same.
“When completed, it is expected that the plant would produce some parts of the wagons for the Lagos-Ibadan and Abuja-Kaduna rail lines, also for the central rail lines and to satisfy the needs of other rail operators within the West African sub-region.”