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Extend Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Rail Line To Chad, President Deby Tells Buhari

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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.

President Buhari performed the groundbreaking of the $3 billion Port Harcourt-Maiduguri project earlier this month.

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.

If Buhari agrees to the request, it will be second of such project his administration will embark upon after the Kano-Maradi, Niger Republic rail line.

Deby said he discussed a number of important issues with his host including the challenges facing Nigeria and Chad and how to strengthen bilateral relations.

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.

He further said that the issue of transfer of water from the Central African Region Republic was also discussed, saying: “Regarding the transfer of water into the recharging of Lake Chad, in 2018 there was a summit meeting of the heads of state of the Lake Chad countries and President Muhammadu Buhari was appointed as the champion for this recharging of Lake Chad.

“Nigeria paid the money for a feasibility study to be done on this recharging of Lake Chad.

“So the issue is really now its financing because we have a feasibility study. It’s something that’s going to be very capital intensive, cost a lot of money and we’re going to have to depend on technical partners, financial institutions and other partners to help to finance this.

“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.”

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