President Idris Deby of Chad on Saturday appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to extend the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri eastern corridor railway line to Chad to enhance trade between Nigeria and his country.
Some Nigerian Railway stakeholders had earlier canvassed a Maiduguri-Ndjamena railway linkage which will connect with the Port Harcourt Maiduguri. The idea is already being actively supported by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno state.
A Maiduguri- Ndjamena line will connect Nigeria to the projected railway line from Chad to Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia.This will also align with African Union’s continental railway project to connect all landlocked capital in Africa.
The Chief Executive Officer of African Railway Consulting Limited, Olawale Rasheed had few weeks ago called on Nigerian government to replicate the Kano-Maradi project on the Maiduguri- Ndjamena line through similar unique financing model.
This he said will expand Nigerian trade corridor from Port Harcourt to North Africa.
Addressing correspondents at the presidential villa, Abuja at end of his one-day visit when he had bilateral talks with Buhari, the Chadian leader said such rail and road transportation link with Nigeria would enable goods to be moved to his landlocked country.
According to him, they discussed the issue of Islamic State and the challenges that they pose to the two countries as well as the Lake Chad environment.
He said that the issue of transfer of water from the Central African Region Republic was addressed, power interconnectivity between Nigeria and Chad and the closure of the borders, adding that the discussion clarified the reasoning behind the border closure.
“Nigeria paid the money for a feasibility study to be done on this recharging of Lake Chad.
“It’s something that is not just for Africans, the environmental impact of a shrinking Lake Chad, but it affects humanity and so everybody has to really mobilise to find the means to be able to carry out this recharging and the beneficiaries will be the whole of humanity.”
Fielding question on the concerns over the activities of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), he said a situation where the task force carried out operations only once a year is a great challenge.
Deby affirmed that defeating the Boko Haram has become a difficult task because of this.
The Chadian President stated: “Yes, in fact, that’s what he was discussing with President Muhammadu Buhari, this issue of the Multinational Joint Task Force, that the situation where it is only able to carry out one operation a year, makes things very difficult and the task of defeating Boko Haram more difficult.
“But with the new security apparatus that has been put in place with the new security chiefs and not only in Nigeria, but even on the Multinational Joint Task Force itself, which also has a new leadership, that we’re hopeful now that with new strategies, and new dynamism, that we’ll be able to address definitively the issue of Boko Haram.”
Asked about the strength of Boko Haram, he added: “Boko Haram is indeed an evil that has hampered the four countries of the Lake Chad Basin, and it has done many harm to our populations. It would be remembered that since 2013/2014, the four countries put together their means to create the Multinational Joint Task Force, this Multinational Joint Task Force has had good results. “