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Why coastal rail project stalled — Amaechi

The coastal rail project from Lagos-Ibadan and Port Harcourt to Calabar has stalled over failure of the National Assembly to approve the $1.5 billion loan…

The coastal rail project from Lagos-Ibadan and Port Harcourt to Calabar has stalled over failure of the National Assembly to approve the $1.5 billion loan from the China EXIM Bank, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said.

Speaking yesterday when he appeared before the Senate Committee hearing on Local and Foreign Debts, Amaechi said, “As a county, it is a bit embarrassing that six months after approval, we have not accessed that loan ($1.5bn) because we are unable to sign that loan.

“Since the approval from China, we are working but we haven’t moved at the pace we wanted because we are yet to get approval from the Senate. So we are yet to go sign the $1.5bn loan from China.”

He said further delay on accessing the facility, will force the China EXIM Bank to give the loan to other interested applicants.

“The total loan package is $60bn for Africa and about 50 countries are battling to get it. Nigeria alone is asking for $20bn. They have approved $1.5bn and they are considering approving a loan for Kano-Kaduna and Port Harcourt to Calabar, which includes Aba. China has written that if we are not interested, they will move the money to somewhere else” Amaechi said. 

The minister debunked claims that the South East zone was excluded in the applications for the loans to fund rail projects across the country.

Earlier, Chairman of the committee, Senator Shehu Sani said the minister was invited to brief it on the proposed loans, the allegations of South East marginalization and also provide technical details on the loan so the Senate can make informed decisions.

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