Nigerian Senate Summons Transport Minister Amaechi Over Eastern Exclusion In Rail Project

Abuja-rail21

Transport minister, Rotimi Amaechi and President Muhammadu Buhari on a test cruise of the Abuja-Kaduna rail line

The Nigerian Senate has decided to invite Transportation Minister, Rotimi Amaechi to explain why the eastern corridor rail line had been excluded from the federal government’s proposal for external loan to finance railway projects across the country.

This was after a Peoples Democratic Party Senator from Abia State, Eyinnaya Abaribe raised the matter on Tuesday. Mr. Abaribe asked the Senate to suspend the consideration of the loan bid due to the exclusion of Eastern corridor line.

“The Eastern section of the rail segment which has link between South-Eastern and North-Eastern segment of the rail line is completely left out,” the senator pointed out.

He added: “The loan being a federal government debt 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.

“Exclusion of the Eastern section which links four zones of South-South, South-East, and North -Central and the North-East, and the key cities such as Port Harcourt, Enugu, Aba, Markurdi, Lafia, Gudi, Bauchi and Maiduguri is inexplicable.”

The Senate refused to suspend deliberation on the matter as Abaribe sought, however it agreed that Mr. Amaechi  should “appear and explain” reason for the exclusion of the Eastern rail corridor.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki added that the leadership of the Senate had been making efforts to address the concern.

President Muhammadu Buhari had in April asked for Senate approval to secure loan from the China EXIM Bank for modernization of Lagos-Kano modernisation projects, Lagos-Ibadan segment $1.231 billion; Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Kano-Kaduna segment $1.146 billion and coastal railway project, the Lagos-Calabar segment, N3.474 billion.

Mr. Buhari had sought for quick approval to enable Nigeria access the China-Africa fund package which was already included in 2016-2018 external borrowing plan – which was forwarded to the National Assembly in August 2016.

But the Senate had completely rejected the borrowing plan last November due to “technical issues”, then Majority leader Ali Ndume had told journalists.

He had promised that the Senate to would do things the right way and would reconsider the request.

“We are trying to do things the way it should be done this time around, but we cannot throw away the baby with the bath water,” Mr. Ndume had assured.

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