The Nigerian Government has secured $7.5 billion loan for the construction of standard rail gauge from Lagos to Kano, an official has said. The $7.5 billion is part of the $30 billion loan the Federal Government seeks to take and for which it has sought approval from the National Assembly.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who disclosed this on Monday at the North Central Town Hall meeting held in Ilorin for the people of Kogi, Niger and Kwara states, urged Nigerians to impress it on the National Assembly to approve the loan request so that the Federal Government can go ahead with the project.
But the Senate in a statement by its spokesperson, Aliyu Abdullahi, on Wednesday in Abuja, said that the minister’s claim was not only false but misrepresenting and contradictory to available facts. It insisted that the minister must withdraw the claim.
According to Amaechi, the loan was secured from a Chinese bank and the ministry is waiting for approval of the National Assembly to access the loan. He said that $1. 4 billion of the loan was for the construction of the rail gauge from Lagos to Ibadan, while $6. 1 billion would be used on Ibadan–Ilorin– Minna-Kaduna– Kano line.
The minister added that Kaura Namoda–Funtua rail line would also be revived. He added that the central rail project from Itakpe to Warri would be completed before the end of 2017, while narrow gauge line from Ilorin–Minna would also commence during the year.
Amaechi said plans were under way to connect Abuja to other parts of the country through the central line at Warri, while the Jos Inland Port would be completed in June, this year. He said that a Lagos-Ijebu- Ode-Ore-Benin-Asaba- Agbor-Onisha-Sapele-Yenagoa- Port Harcourt-Uyo and Calabar coastal rail line would be constructed.
He said that work on the Eastern rail flank linking Aba to Port Harcourt, Makurdi, Enugu and Jos, would commence in June.
The minister said that Ekiti would be linked by rail through Osogbo and would run to Ilorin, Minna and Kano. He also said that the ministry had sought approval to purchase more coaches and locomotives for the Abuja-Kaduna light rail.
Contrary to Amaechi’s claim, the Senate spokesperson said, no such loan request was before the Senate. “As at today, the only request for approval from the executive for loan was the one dated January 27, 2017 and signed by Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
“The request was seeking a `resolution of National Assembly for Issuance of one billion Euro Bond in the International Capital Market for funding of 2016 Budget Deficit’ and we immediately granted the approval. “Also, in the letter quoted above, the Government mentioned the two rail lines cited by the minister as part of the projects for which the Euro Bond will be utilized,” he said.