Chinese firm picked for major light-rail scheme in Kano, Nigeria

China’s state-owned railway construction firm has been awarded a provisional $1.85bn contract to build a light railway line in the northern Nigerian state of Kano.

China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) said in a statement yesterday that two of its subsidiaries had been provisionally awarded the contract to build four lines totalling just over 74km in length, with a design speed of 100km/h.

The state’s capital, Kano city, has been rocked by violence in recent years. It was the scene of a grisly bombing and shooting attack on a mosque in November 2014 that left 100 dead, and a suicide bombing of a Shia procession that killed 21 in November 2015. Both attacks were attributed to jihadist group Boko Haram.

Last week former US Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, warned that Boko Haram terrorists would step up attacks in Kano state.

On top of its inadequate infrastructure, Nigeria’s economy has been hurt severely by the drop in the price of oil, which has hampered the development plans of the country’s new president, Muhammadu Buhari.

Nevertheless, the country’s finance minister Kemi Adeosun said earlier this month that $180m in extra spending would be allocated for capital projects as part of the 2016 budget to boost the economy, Reuters reports.

Adeosun said Nigeria would tap partnerships with the private sector to boost investment and the government was also in talks with General Electric to develop and operate rail services to improve transport for goods, said Reuters.

China is positioned to play a major role in Nigeria’s transport infrastructure development. In July this year Nigeria signed an agreement with another Chinese contracting giant, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, to build the $12bn, 1,400-km Lagos-Calabar Coastal Railway, one of the highest value rail projects in African history.

CRCC, meanwhile, said the value of its light rail contract, if it comes to pass, represented 2% of its operating revenue in 2015.
It added that the contract would have a construction period of 2 years for Phase I and Phase II, respectively.

The provisional contract was awarded by the state’s Ministry of Works, Housing & Transport.

Image: A view of Kano city in 2005 (Shiraz Chakera/Wikimedia Commons)

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