The Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday said that about N16.56 trillion will be required to construct the nation’s three major speed rail lines.

The minister gave this hint on Tuesday in Papalanto, near Abeokuta, Ogun State during a joint inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan standard rail gauge project he conducted with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed.

Specifically, he said that the three speed rail line projects namely, the Lagos to Kano, Lagos to Calabar and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, were key in the present administration’s infrastructure development agenda, adding that even in the shortage of funds, the President had directed that the projects should be completed.

Ameachi explained: “We don’t have the money available but we have to source it. The Federal Government must look for the money, we may likely borrow the money because the money is not just there.

“For now, the Chinese are funding the Lagos to Kano rail project and any of those that we have approached, when they give us money for the other two projects we will gladly take,” he added.

On private sector financing option for the project, the minister explained that the long-term returns on investment nature of the projects would not encourage investors to be involved in them.

“There is nowhere in the world where railway is constructed by private sector. This is because it is a long time investment and the money will not be recovered in time”, Amaechi said.

Speaking on funding options that government is exploring to finance the projects, the minister confirmed that government had approached the Russian NEXIM Bank for funding of any of the rail projects, adding that despite its financial constraints government is working to ensure that the 156km Lagos-Ibadan rail project is completed by December 2018.

He said that on completion, it would take a fast train at a speed of 150 kilometres per hour to take off in Lagos and arrive in Ibadan.

He explained: “We will introduce express train that will take off from either Apapa or Ebute Metta straight to Abeokuta and to Ibadan. We will also introduce train that will stop in all the nine stations to give passengers choices.”

The minister, who said that over 7,000 jobs had been created through the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, also disclosed that government had commenced rehabilitation of the narrow gauge to reduce the pressure of cargoes on the roads.