President Muhammadu Buhari is expected today to perform the ground-breaking ceremony for the take-off of University of Transportation in his home town, Daura, Katsina State.
Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi, who broke the news at the weekend, said the event will hold at 10 a.m.
The minister said the specialised university, which is one of the gains of the several rail projects being handled by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), is aimed at promoting and developing local competence and capacity through acquisition of requisite technology in the railway sub-sector.
It is first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa and it is expected to train Nigerians in all aspects of the transportation industry and encourage more Nigerians to study transportation systems.
Amaechi said 150 Nigerians are currently in China on scholarship at Chinese universities on the bill of CCECC.
The minister said discussions were in top gear with CCECC to ensure that another set of 150 students enjoy similar scholarship in the coming academic session.
He said government envisaged that the beneficiaries will acquire up to Masters and PhD in the next five to six years and return to the country to take up jobs in the university as lecturers.
Amaechi, who spoke exclusively with The Nation, said there was no definite time for the take-off of the school.
He explained that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Nigerian and the Chinese governments states that the Chinese would run the university for five years while Nigerians will take over later.
The minister said Nigeria is not committing any fund to the university project, adding that it is solely funded by CCECC and the Chinese government.
According to him, the Chinese requested that the Federal Government nominate an administrator, or a Vice Chancellor, who will lead the designing of the school’s curriculum, in order to ensure that it caters for all the areas of transportation studies, including the various schools, faculties and departments needed to ensure its global outlook.
The establishment of the university is in line with the corporate social responsibility (CSR) of CCECC, especially in job creation as well as encouragement of local capacity development.
Amaechi said the university will boost the localisation and manufacturing of railway materials and domestication of rail sciences and engineering in Nigeria.