Nigeria seeks $11 bln loans for Lagos-Calabar rail line ~Transport minister
Nigeria will seek external loans and support of $11 billion for the construction of the Lagos to Calabar rail line in a bid to improve infrastructure and enhance movement across the country, the minister of transportation has said.
Chibuike Amaechi, who spoke in Lagos during an interactive session with the South-East and South-South Professionals of Nigeria (SESSPN) noted that work will soon start of the design and feasibility studies for other section of rail lines in the country.
“Now, we are applying for $11 billion loan to construct Lagos to Calabar rail. There was no design for Port Harcourt-Maiduguri. We knew that the first thing to do was to commence a feasibility study, after that, we’ll do the design,” Amaechi told the group.
“It’s now they’ll start to do the site drawing. In the next three months, they will be doing that, you’ll start shouting again: why are they not constructing? You forget that Ibadan to Kano, they are just finishing the design now, that’s why they’ve not started construction.”
He said President Muhammadu Buhari was more interested in making sure that all rail lines in Nigeria must be standard gauge. S
He, however, said that when the design for a standard gauge was done for the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line, it was discovered that it will cost the country a around $11 to $14 billion to construct, which may not be feasible under the present circumstance.
The government has to reconsider its stance on standard gauge rain line Port Harcourt -Maiduguri rail and settled for the reconstruction of the narrow gauge at $3.1 billion.
According to him, the president has since gave his approval; noting that the president agreed “that we can proceed with the narrow-gauge while seeking money to construct the standard gauge.”
“At least, I’m sure that before we leave government, we would have done up to 80 percent of that rail line. Also, there was no line to Owerri, I added Owerri to the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail design, because of the Industrial Park and the University of Transportation in Ubima,” Amaechi added.
The group had taken advantage of the Minister’s presence in Lagos to hold talks with him on challenges facing the regions, particularly in the areas of security, power, social integration and representation in the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government. Amaechi on why railway work was yet to commence in the South-East, said,
“I hate tribalism. I’ve said this before. For me, I’m a Nigerian, and what informs my decision of choosing which rail line to construct at any point in time, is the economics of rail; and currently, the economics shows that Lagos to Kano has the capacity to move 30 million tonnes of cargo per year.
“I did same analysis for Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail line and it’s 11 million tonnes. We are currently doing the analysis for Lagos to Calabar to know how many tonnes of cargo can be moved there per year. So, we started with the Lagos to Kano rail line.
President Olusegun Obasanjo approved it, President Jonathan started construction on it by doing Abuja to Kaduna and President Buhari told us to complete all previous projects.
It’s now they’ll start to do the site drawing. In the next three months, they will be doing that, you’ll start shouting again: why are they not constructing? You forget that Ibadan to Kano, they are just finishing the design now, that’s why they’ve not started construction.