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FG may not deliver three speed rail line projects due to funding gap—Minister

Chances of the current administration to deliver the ongoing three key major railway projects including Lagos to Kano, Lagos to Calabar and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri look very slim as government has said it is looking for ($46b) N16.56tr for their completion.

The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi who revealed the funding crisis rocking the rail development projects, said in Papalanto, near Abeokuta, Ogun State during a joint inspection of the Lagos-Ibadan standard rail gauge with the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, that the three routes are very crucial to the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Amaechi averred that “Although the government did not have the fund ready to finance the projects, the President had directed him to source for the fund because of the importance of the projects. We don’t have the money available but we have to source it”.

“The Federal Government must look for the money, we may likely borrow the money because the money is not just there.

“For now, the Chinese are funding the Lagos to Kano rail project and any of those that we have approached would be considered when money for the other two projects is available.

Amaechi said that the private sector funding of the project was not visible because “there is no way in the world where railway is constructed by private sector.

According to him, “This is because it is a long term investment and the money will not be recovered in time”.

The minister said that he had approached the Russian Nexim Bank for funding of any of the rail project.

Speaking on the 156km Lagos-Ibadan rail project, Amaechi said they were working to meet the December 2018 completion deadline, noting “Upon completion, it would take a speed train of 150km per hour that would travel from Lagos to Ibadan in one hour. We will introduce express train that will take off from either Apapa or Ebute Metta straight to Abeokuta and to Ibadan.

“We will also introduce train that will stop in all the nine stations to give passengers choices,” he said.

The minister said that no fewer than 7000 jobs have been created by the Lagos-Ibadan rail project.

He also revealed that government had commenced rehabilitation of the narrow gauge to reduce the pressure of cargoes on the road, adding that the challenges on the standard gauge were the track.