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Ajaokuta: $5bn Railway maintenance bill to be saved annually

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ABUJA JANUARY 31, 2017 –  total sum of $5 billion spent annually on importation of railway expansion and maintenance materials would be saved when Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) begins full operation, Minister of Mines and Steel, Abubakar Bwari told House of Representatives members Monday.

The minister made the disclosure during the 2016 budget defence session before the Hon. Lawal Idirisu- headed House Committee on Steel.

According to him, ASCL also has the capacity to generate 100,000 direct and 500,000 indirect employment opportunities in both Downstream and upstream industries.

He said: “I will not conclude the presentation to this honourable committee without re-emphasising the benefits of a functional steel sector will have on the recessed Nigerian economy.

“For the construction industry, imports of over four million tons of rolled steel products and over 12 million tons of other steel products at the present rate will stop, leading to savings of several billions in foreign currency per annum.

“In the transport (rail) sector, with rail track production in ASCL, more than $5 billion imports of rail for railway expansion and maintenance will be saved per annum. Likewise, in the transportation (road) sun-sector, availability of flat sheets, spares for automobile industries will
significantly reduce foreign exchange, reduce unemployment, increase technology acquisition, etc.”

The minister told the lawmakers that due diligence exercise has been concluded on the modified concession agreement signed between Federal Government and Messrs. GINL/GSHL, in October 2016.

The concessionaire, Bwari said, has scheduled to carry out cold/hot tests to enable preparation of NIOMCO business plan and immediate commencement of operation.

To this end, stakeholders, according to him, are in constant meeting with the concessionaire to address the issues of logistics and completion of other relevant schedules of settlement agreement.

Collaborations, he revealed, are ongoing with Federal Ministry of Transportation for the development of Central Rail Corridor through Itakpe and Ajaokuta.

He said his ministry is also cooperating with Federal Ministry of Power for the development of Coal Power projects for increase economic activities in the sector.