FG seeks fresh N4.58tn loan for rail projects

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The Federal Government is considering securing fresh loans to finance some of the country’s rail projects.

The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed this to State House correspondents on Tuesday after a meeting he had with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

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Amaechi said the President had approved that negotiation should commence on a $15bn (N4.58tn at the exchange rate of N305 to a dollar) loan for the Port Harcourt -Maiduguri and Lagos-Calabar rail projects.

He stated, “The Lagos-Calabar rail project has yet to start because of funds; the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri has yet to start because of funds, but the President has approved that we negotiate for funds.

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“We are almost concluding negotiations for the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail. We are looking at the cost, which is in the neighbourhood of between $14bn and $15bn.”

The minister also stated that laying of tracks on the Lagos-Ibadan railway would commence in April.

He expressed the hope that the project would be completed latest by January 2019.

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This, he said, would provide job opportunities for Nigerians.

He added, “If the rain doesn’t start early, we will start laying tracks on the Lagos-Ibadan route in April. Hopefully, we believe we can complete it in December or January, and open it up for passengers and business.

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“We expect about 6,000,000 tonnes of cargo out of the 30,000,000 tonnes of cargo that we have between Lagos and Kano. In terms of job creation, rest assured that it will be in thousands.”

On the Itakpe-Warri rail project, Ameachi said it was being reconstructed and expressed the hope that it would be inaugurated by August.

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He stated, “The tracks were already there but they were vandalised; so, we are rebuilding those tracks and then building new stations. We are also reconstructing a yard that was abandoned.

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“All things being equal, the place should be ready soon. We gave them May as completion period but let’s say by August we should be inaugurating it.”

The minister reassured Nigerians that adequate security had been taken to guarantee safety of passengers aboard rail transportation in the country.

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