Nigeria on Monday signed a deal worth almost US$1 billion with a state-owned Chinese engineering firm to resuscitate part of its dilapidated railway system, the transport minister said.
The US$875-million contract was signed by Transport Minister Ibrahim Isa Bio and the managing director of the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), Zhou Tianxiang, in Abuja. The deal constitutes the first phase of the country's railway modernization plans. As part of it, a railway track will be rebuilt between the administrative capital Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna - a distance of roughly 200km - over the next three years. The Chinese government has granted Nigeria a concessionary loan of US$500 million for the project. There are also plans to reconstruct a 1,315-km track between Lagos, Nigeria's commercial hub in the southwest and the northern city of Kano.
Once the pride of the nation, Nigeria's railways have, like much of the rest of the country's infrastructure, crumbled over the years. Nigeria has a network of thousands of km of narrow-gauge single track lines, covering nine of the country's 36 states.