The Federal Government has concluded arrangements to compel persons transporting cargo along the Lagos/Ibadan highway in trucks and heavy duty vehicles to use the rail system.

Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, said the idea is to preserve Lagos/Ibadan road when the rail reconstruction is completed.

Amaechi stated this while briefing State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to the minister, effective from June 2019, the Federal Government would have completed work on the rail project linking the Western and Northern axis to begin the transportation of cargo.

“We believe that by next year, we will begin to encourage those who transport by trucks between Lagos and Ibadan to use the rail. We believe that before the end of June, we will start running from January but, we may not be able to carry enough cargo, we will be able to do that by June/July.

“At that point, most of the trucks carrying cargo going to Ibadan must be on the rail, so that we can save the Lagos/Ibadan road,” the minister stressed.

The Transport Minister said FEC approved contract for the building of a freight office in Jibia, a border town between Kastina State and Niger Republic.

He said: “We awarded the national freight office in Jibia for the sum of N551,810,060 and the contract is to last for 36 weeks. You know that the national freight office is usually located at border post. So, the border post between Katsina and Niger Republic, that is where it is located.”
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari will, tomorrow, preside over a ‘special’ FEC, to consider the draft 2019 appropriation bill.

Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina, who spoke at the briefing joined by Amaechi, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, and the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, said the ‘Special FEC’ will deliberate solely on 2019 draft budget proposal.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, on 18th October at the consultative forum on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) 2019 to 2021, said the Federal Government plans to submit a leaner 2019 budget to the National Assembly before the end of November.

Udoma said government was optimistic of achieving the 2.3 million barrels a day target with production now rising to about 2.15 million barrels a day.
The country’s oil output has since dropped to about 1.9 million barrels a day.

The Federal Government had proposed an oil price benchmark of $50 per barrel in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

According to the Budget Minister, with a significant rise in the price above $80 per barrel currently, government moved the oil price benchmark to $60 a barrel.

Udoma said N305 was proposed as exchange rate to the dollar, with government working to keep inflation down after slight increases in the last two months on the heels of 18 months’ consecutive decline.

The projected target gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate for the 2019 budget was put at 3.01 per cent, reduced from 4.5 per cent in the ERGP; 3.6 per cent in 2020 and 3.9 per cent in 2021.

“Growth is expected to increase from 0.8 per cent in 2017 to 2.1 per cent this year and 3.01 per cent in 2019 with the continued implementation of the ERGP in 2019 and improved outlook for oil prices,” he said.

On revenue, Udoma said based on the oil price and oil production assumptions, government expects to generate about N3.6 trillion from oil, up by about N500 billion from last year’s figure.
About N6.9 trillion revenue is projected to be available to the budget in 2019.

With other projections showing government expects to collect less revenue from some independent sources, he said only about N624 billion is expected to be realised, against about N847 billion in the 2018 budget, among others.

In his remarks, the Minister of Power Works and Housing said Council approved cost variations on Osegudu-Uweto road project from an initial contract price of N7.9 billion to N9.5 billion.

“The initial cost of the bridge was about N7.9 billion and then we had a variation of about N1.6 billion that takes it to N9.5 billion,” he said.

“The importance of the Loko-Uweto road, which we have substantially now completed is that it is the bridge that links the North and South of Nigeria,” he said.

Fashola also assured that the Federal Government, through the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) within the next couple of months, will rehabilitate major roads across the country to ease vehicular traffic, especially through the festive period.