Amaechi wants $3b to rejig Port Harcourt-Maiduguri old narrow gauge
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Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has again requested $3b loan, which is presently before President Muhammadu Buhari for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri narrow gauge.
This is in spite of seeking Federal Government’s approval for the construction of a standard gauge rail line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri in line with President Buhari’s determination to connect all cities in Nigeria by rail.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja at the weekend, the minister explained that getting approval for the rehabilitation of the existing narrow gauge would ensure that economic activities begin on that axis as waiting for $12b for the construction of a new standard gauge line may be delayed.
“The president has earlier approved the construction of the standard gauge, the Bonny Seaport and Port Harcourt Industrial Park. So, we are seeking another approval.
“If we start pursuing the money to construct the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri gauge now in case we may not get the loan easily. So, why not give us permission to do two things at the same time, while looking for the money for the standard gauge, allow us to rehabilitate the narrow gauge-that is, remove what we have now and replace them with new ones and that will cost us about $3b, which is easy to get and extend it to Bonny.
“The people are willing to build the seaport and industrial park with their own money. But if we get that approval, we will source for the money. With $2b, we will rebuild and there won’t be patch line to Owerri and Abakiliki, because we are just going to repeat the old track line. That is what is before the President and we submitted it last week and is awaiting his approval.”
He continued, “The President is a bit more determined that we construct a standard gauge, but if we continue to wait, we may not get the funds to construct the standard gauge now. I’m not saying we won’t get it, but it took us over three years to get N5.3b and you are asking for $12b loan. It won’t be that easy.
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