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Amaechi
Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi

Amaechi to explain why S/East, N/East were excluded in new rail schemes before Senate

The Nigerian Senate after reviewing the superior argument of South East and North East lawmakers lead by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe on the clear exclusion of the regions in the new railway schemes, has summoned the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi to come forward for explanations.

Senator Abaribe fired the superior shots during the debate for the Senate consideration of about $6bn loan request for the execution of the railway schemes brought by the presidency.

The loan is planned for the delivery of Lagos-Ibadan, Kano-Kaduna and Lagos-Calabar Coastal rail lines without any corridor for the same scheme in both South East and North East.

Before now, leaders of thought in the South East had presented before the federal government proposal to include Aba-Onitsha rail scheme considering their commercial hub statuses.

A report by the World Bank few years ago ranked commercial hubs in Africa and listed Aba and Onitsha among top 20 while Kaduna and Ibadan came within the level of top 30.

Considering the report of the World Bank, analysts were confused on what the Amaechi lead ministry had considered before excluding the corridor in the new rail schemes.

Amachie is expected to appear before the Senate as soon as possible for the explanation as the lawmakers will take the final decision on the loan based on his explanations.

Business Hilights recalls that President Muhammadu Buhari had in April sought the approval of the National Assembly for the federal government 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.

Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, it would be recalled had raised the matter on Tuesday, praying the Senate to suspend the consideration of the loan bid in view of the exclusion of Eastern corridor line.

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

“The loan being a federal government 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,” submitted Abaribe.

Before his ruling, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said already the leadership of the Senate had been making efforts to address the concern.

President Buhari had sought the approval on April 26, he asked quick approval to enable Nigeria access the China-Africa fund package already included in 2016-2018 external borrowing plan which was forwarded to the National Assembly last August.

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