By Jide Ajia
President Muhammadu Buhari has again written to National Assembly, seeking approval to borrow $5.851 billion for upgrading of various sections of Nigerian railway.
This was contained in a letter to the leadership of National Assembly, Senator Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara.
Reading the letter during plenary on Wednesday, Dogara quoted the President as pleading with lawmakers to approve the loan on time.
Buhari said timely approval would enable the country access the China-African fund provided for in the 2016-2018 external borrowing plan.
According to Buhari, the project form part of the overall plan to resuscitate the rail transport across the country and drive economic growth.
“I wish to refer to my earlier letter with respect to the above subject and to inform the distinguished senate that the China Exim bank has approved our request for a loan to execute the Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Lagos-Ibadan segment for a sum of $1.231 billion.
The China government has also informed us that the approval of the Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Kano-Kaduna segment and coastal railway project, the Lagos-Calabar segment are imminent,” Buhari said in the letter
He added that China Exim supported projects such as Lagos-Kano modernisation projects, Lagos-Ibadan segment $1.231 billion; Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Kano-Kaduna segment $1.146 billion and coastal railway project, and Lagos-Calabar segment 3.474 billion, making a total of $5.851 billion.
“As you are aware the funds available under the China-African fund are limited and loan applications from all over Africa countries are funded based on first come, first serve and therefore there is an urgent need to sign these loans as soon as they are approved or we may loose out in the event that we delayed in signing the loan agreement,” Buhari said
He said these loans form part of the overall money for the rail strategy, adding that his administration is in the process of completing concession of Port Harcourt Maiduguri line to immediately link the eastern part of the nation.
“We fully intend to source further concessioning funding to ultimately upgrade this critical line to high speed standard gauge. These projects form the overall plan to resuscitate the rail transport across the nation and thereby drive inclusive growth,” the president said.