Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, in ABUJA yesterday, discredit the allegation of non-inclusion of South-East states in the rail line projects of the railway networks across the country for which $5.8 billion loan is being sought from China
Amaechi, who spoke during the hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign debts also explained the technicalities of the rail-line project before the loan request from the China Exim Bank can get the approval of the lawmakers.
The minister further explained that former presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan had already applied for the loan while the present administration wants to implement it. According to the minister, “I do not know where the information that the South East States were excluded in the rail projects is coming from.” Amaechi also explained that the two major rail projects of the Federal Government are the coastal rail project, which is from Lagos to Calabar traversing Lagos-Ore-Benin City-Sapele-Warri-Yenegoa with sidings to Otuoke, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo, Calabar and branch line from Benin-City, Abudu, Onitsha including Onitsha rail bridge. He said: “There is the Lagos-Kano rail project, which traverses Lagos-Abeokuta, Ibadan, Osogbo, Ilorin, Jebba, Minna, Kaduna, Zaria, Kano with branch line from Minna and Abuja and Abuja/Kaduna. “There is also the coastal rail project from Lagos-Calabar, which traverses Lagos-Sagamu-Ore-Benin City-Sapele-Warri-Yenagoa. “The coastal rail line already has its route alignment passing through Aba in Abia State and Onitsha in Anambra State, both of which are in the South East geopolitical zone.” The minister debunked the allegation of non- inclusion of the South-East states against the argument of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South) who resolved that the loan would not be considered except all regions were carried along in the utilisation of the loan.
He said: “The loan being a Federal Government loan would be paid by all sections of the country. Therefore, every section of the country should be taken into consideration. For the railway project to have meaningful impact on the development of the country, it should cover all parts of the country.” While agreeing with Abaribe’s argument that there was no reason why the South-East should be excluded from the rail project, since it would be part of the repayment, Amaechi stated that it would be wrong for anybody to say that the South-East states were not included in the rail-line projects.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Shehu Sani told the minister that he was invited to explain the technical details of the rail-line project, which he said the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, could not answer due to the technicalities involved. Sani said the minister’s explanation would assist the senate to take decision on the loan request