Portuguese construction company Mota-Engil has started work on the $ 1.8 billion railway line that will link Nigeria and Niger in West Africa.
The groundbreaking ceremony took place at the site of a proposed resort at Makira in Katsina, Bloomberg reported.
In January, the Nigerian Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, signed the contract with Mota-Engil for the construction of the 283 km line connecting the city of Kano in northern Nigeria to Maradi in Niger.
The rail line will also cover other cities such as Danbatta, Kazaure, Daura, Mashi, Katsina and Jibiya in Nigeria.
This rail project is expected to boost trade in the region and help establish Nigeria as an export hub.
It is also the region’s first rail project not executed by Chinese construction companies and banks and will depend on European funding.
According to the company, Credit Suisse Group, Africa Finance and German state bank KfW will finalize loans from commercial banks, export credit agencies and multilateral institutions.
In a text to Bloomberg, Manuel Antonio Mota, CEO of Mota-Engil Africa and Europe, said the project “is a strategic investment for the present and for the future” which will “open up the northern part of the country” by enabling companies transport their goods directly to the coast by rail.
The new line will have the capacity to carry more than three million passengers and one million tonnes of freight in one year.
After the financing is finalized, construction will be completed in 36 months.