The non-approval of the $30bn foreign loan by the National Assembly is delaying various rail projects across the country, Minister of Transport Chubuike Rotimi Amaechi has said.
Amaechi said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved the various projects and forwarded the loan request to the legislature but that the non-approval has made it impossible for the projects to take off.
The minister, who spoke when he appeared before the joint Senate Committee on Land Transport and Local and Foreign Debts, said the projects included the Port Harcourt-Enugu-Maiduguri and the Lagos-Kano rail lines.
The joint committee is investigating allegations that the government has abandoned the Port Harcourt-Enugu-Maiduguri rail line and concentrated on the Lagos-Kano axis.
Responding to questions from members of the joint panel headed by Senators Gbenga Ashafa (APC, Lagos) and Shehu Sani (PRP, Kaduna), Amaechi said: “We didn’t abandon any rail project. All the rail projects awarded are there.
The truth is that we can’t go and borrow without Senate approval. The Federal Executive Council has awarded the contracts, but we can’t go to work without funds, and that has to come when the Senate approves the $30bn loan request.”
He said once the projects were completed, movements of cargoes would be done via rail, which would reduce the pressures on Nigerian roads.
Senator Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko (APC, Sokoto) sought to know if there was any rail contract awarded that would cut across Sokoto State to which the minister said there was one from Jibiya in Katsina State to Sokoto and Kebbi states.