Railway: We signed MoU for preliminary processes not contract, NDDC clarifies
The Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) has said it has not awarded any contract for railway network in the region, but only signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for preliminary processes for the project.
The agency made this known in a statement by its Director, Corporate Affairs, Ibitoye Abosede, which was made available to The Guardian, yesterday.
According to the statement, at the Public Private Partnerships (PPP) summit, which it organised in Lagos on April 25, an MoU was signed with a United States-based firm, Atlanta Global Resources Inc. (AGRI), to build a railway network that will connect the nine states of the Niger Delta region.
It said: “This foundational process may have been misconstrued by some persons to mean that the NDDC has signed the Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) contract.
It noted that the agency have been “inundated with enquiries over what is ordinarily one of the preliminary steps necessary for the actualisation of a partnership arrangement with the private sector.”
The agency said that what it signed at the PPP summit was a basic MoU to commence preliminary processes of feasibility and viability of the rail project, noting that it did not include any agreement on details.
It said: “It is only after the preliminary studies, that the finance appraisals will be done, and then the civil engineering procurements and the locomotive hardware will be considered.”
“For those who may not know, AGRI deals with financing for industrial products, infrastructure projects, agriculture equipment, capital equipment financing etc.
“They came recommended by a reliable US financial institution, especially for deployment of US-produced locomotives.
“NDDC is aware that a partnership agreement of a massive project such as a railway network involves many international and national financial protocols,” the NCDC said.
“It has many ramifications at the highest level of government. It is also not unaware of Federal Government contract of 2021 for rail line construction. However, the proposed network covered by the MoU is on a different alignment.
“We are also aware that there must be sovereign guarantees, which can only be granted by Federal Government, after which it will seek the approval of the National Assembly.
“What we signed on April 25 is simply the opening phase that will determine how far we will go, but it definitely showcases how interested the international partners are in tapping into the Niger Delta region.
“We expect challenges, especially at this initial stage, but that will not discourage us in any way.”
The agency noted that the prospects of realising the rail network are very good, and that it is confident that it will succeed ultimately.