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2021 Budget: Amaechi canvasses adequate funds to deliver on railway projects

By John Akubo and Joke Falaju (Abuja)
07 November 2020   |   4:13 am
The Federal Government has mapped out multiple railway projects to achieve intermodal transportation in the country as captured in the N12.6 trillion 2021 budget.

The Federal Government has mapped out multiple railway projects to achieve intermodal transportation in the country as captured in the N12.6 trillion 2021 budget.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who stated this at the National Assembly in Abuja, yesterday, during the budget defence session with the Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Land and Marine Transportation, explained that the projects would be financed through budgetary and counterpart funding.

According to him, part of the projects are the construction of 378km single track standard gauge rail line traversing Kano- Katsina-Jibiya with a 20km extension to the commercial boarder town of Maradi in Niger Republic and a branch line, Kano-Dutse; reconstruction and rehabilitation of new Port Harcourt-Maiduguri (Eastern Narrow Gauge Railways); construction of the central railway from Itakpe to Abuja and to a new Warri Port.

He said three of the projects – Kano to Maradi, Port Harcourt to Maiduguri and Lagos to Calabar rail lines – would be funded from foreign loans already being negotiated by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.

The minister also explained that the construction of Lagos-Ibadan Standard Gauge line has reached 92 per cent completion, adding that the project could not achieve full loan drawdown from the co-financier (China EXIM Bank) and attain practical completion until construction of pedestrian and overpass bridges are completed.

“These additional and extra works amounting to $656 million, which is to be financed 100 per cent by the Federal Government, has been approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for implementation.

“The project contractor, Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited, on the instruction of the Ministry, has commended work and reached advanced stages. Therefore, in order not to forestall the progress of implementation, adequate fund needs to be provided in the 2021 budget proposals to facilitate its completion,” he said.

According to him, to realise the projects, the ministry proposed a capital budget of N205, 161,882,492 for next year, out of which
N204.316 billion was budgeted for land transportation while marine transportation will get N845 million with overhead of N358.799 million.

“The aims and objectives of these proposals are to make significant progress on all ongoing projects and to complete and deliver modern railway services that would provide an efficient and cost effective alternative transport system for economic growth and creation of job opportunities for the citizenry,” he said.

Members of the committee, however, refused to interrogate the Minister for failing to make required documents available to them before his presentation.

Senator Danjuma Goje (APC Gombe Central), who chairs the Senate Committee on Marine Transport, said since documents containing the budgetary proposals were made available to them by the Minister during his presentation, there was nothing they could do at that stage.

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