January 14 2015
In Benin, the company Bénirail is bringing hope for the rebirth of rail travel between Benin and Niger. In the early years of the 20th century, the OCBN, the Benin Niger Joint Organisation for rail and transport, had plans to connect these two countries together. History decided otherwise.
A historic construction project revived by two Heads of State
Today the dream is alive again, under the historic leadership of two Heads of State, His Excellency, Dr Thomas Boni Yayi, the President of Benin and His Excellency, Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, who have placed their trust in Bolloré Group, an acknowledged expert in rail travel in Africa. The Group, led by Vincent Bolloré, is prime contractor for the construction of the Benin-Niger rail link. Ultimately, 2,700 kilometres of rail track will be created or renovated to form the long-awaited West African rail loop.
A legal framework for the construction of the Benin-Niger rail loop
On November 7 2013, Benin, Niger and Bolloré Group signed a memorandum of understanding for the implementation of the project to renovate, build and operate the rail line from Cotonou to Niamey via Parakou and Dosso. On February 20 2014, fresh discussions were organised in Paris to set out the road map for the project implementation. From then on the project picked up speed. On April 7 2014, Niger’s Head of State and the CEO of Bolloré Group together inaugurated the station in Niamey and launched the construction of the Blueline. The next day, on April 8, in Cotonou, the Beninese Head of State, accompanied by Vincent Bolloré, launched renovation work for the central station in Cotonou and the construction of the Zongo Bluezone. On December 18 2014; the Niamey-Dosso line was inaugurated.
Speeding up growth in the two countries and the whole region
The projects have been driven forward at speed to support and accelerate the growth that is vital to the two countries and the whole region. Today, work is to start on the renovation of the rail link between Cotonou and Parakou, in compliance with international construction standards. The work at the central station in Cotonou has been conducted in partnership with Beninese contractors, creating local jobs in the process.