The Nigerian government needs about $16 billion to construct and modernise major rail lines. Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation disclosed this Thursday while speaking with State House correspondents after emerging from a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that between now and December 2017, the ministry will ensure efficiency in the rail system.
Amaechi who said he was summoned by the president to brief him on the progress made on the projects, said his ministry has already been given approval for all the projects, adding that the government ”has to look for the money first.”
“The money is not just there, it is a total of about $16 billion and you don’t just pluck $16 billion from the sky,” he said.
To this end, he said the ministry is looking at the possibility of a public private partnership (PPP) to execute some of the projects.
The projects for which approval has been granted include the eastern flank of the Nigerian Railway modernization from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, which cuts across Aba, Owerri, Enugu, Umuahia, down to Abakalili, Awka, Makurdi, Lafia, Bauchi, Gombe, Yola and to Damaturu and ends in Borno.
Another is the rail line from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic, which he (Ameachi) had gone to brief the president about progress on negotiations for loans and possible financiers.
“We will try and see if we can get PPP especially as it pertains to the seaports. Don’t forget that there are two deep-sea ports that were approved: Bonny Deep Sea Port and Warri Deep Sea Port.
Amaechi also said he briefed Mr. Buhari about projects within the Lagos-Ibadan axis and what is being done we to complete the Lagos-Kano railway.
He said the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is handling that dredging of Calabar Port in Cross River State, adding that the NPA has already advertised for a PPP arrangement.
On how much loan the government intends to go for to finance the projects, Amaechi said, “the total expenditure for that area will come to about $16 billion.
“But not all is necessarily loan, that is why I said the first step of action is PPP, it is after we finish PPP that we can say what the actual total figure for the loan will look like.”
He said the ministry is bringing in more locomotives, coaches and wagons.
“In terms of the narrow gauge, if not for a hitch, we would have commenced trucking cargo from Apapa Sea Port to Ebute-Metta and taking away the challenges we are having with that Apapa road. That would happen before December,” he said.
The minister said he was expecting 10 trains for Kaduna -Abuja rail line, while another seven will also come soon at the Itakpe-Warri rail line.
“We believe that by next year, June, Itakpe-Warri should be ready,” he said.