By Ebi Perekeme
Construction work has commenced on the $50m (N18.95bn) Transportation University being constructed by the Chinese government for Nigeria in Daura, Katsina State.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, who inspected the project on Saturday, said the target was to complete the university in September 2021.
China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation is constructing the facility in Daura, the home town of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), as a gift to Nigeria.
Speaking on the project, Amaechi said, “There has been too much noise about them (CCECC) not constructing anything. When you got there, you saw that they were constructing. They just got approval from the state government.
“Proper construction will start at the end of September and hopefully they should be able to complete it at the end of September next year.”
Meanwhile on January 19, 2016, when Amaechi appeared before the Senate Committee on Marine Transport, headed by Senator Ahmed Sani, to brief the Senate panel on the activities of the agencies under his supervision, guillotined the university.
NMU is a Federal Government project sponsored by the Nigeria Maritime and Safety Administration Agency, NIMASA, one of the parastatasl under Amaechi’s portfolio as Minister of Aviation.
He words: “We are not going ahead with the university project (referring to NMU, Okerenkoko), proposed by NIMASA because we have an institution in Oron, we have Nigeria Institute of Transport Technology, Zaria and we have the Nigerian College of Aviation in Zaria, which we could upgrade to a university status and NIMASA is proposing to build a new one.
“Who will attend the university? How many parents will allow their children to go to such a place where it proposes to site the university? I do not think we are proceeding with the university proposed by NIMASA because it is a waste of resources, and, unfortunately, a lot of money has already been released for the university project, hence there is no structure on ground but just the feasibility study.
“Whoever that is holding on to the money should better return it. The Chinese company contracted, confirmed that only the feasibility study was in place.”
It looked as if that it was until Amaechi amplified his stance before the Senate panel that people took notice of his stand, if not, he had, in December, last year, while on familiarization tour of Lagos ports and maritime agencies, ordered suspension of construction works at the university.
He stated then: “On the issue of misplacement of priority, I have already addressed it. When they came to me about the university at Okerenkoko, I said they should hold on because we need to build the Oron school to the standard that we need in order to be able to compete with global institutions.
“When we get there (MAN, Oron) and there is not enough space for the students, then you can go ahead with Okerenkoko. We are not saying that the school will not go ahead but we want to place priority on Oron first to see what is doable, there is no money so we must be careful before taking on new projects.”