The transport ministry says the proposal for a $5.9 billion loan to finance railway projects captures all parts of the country, denying the eastern corridor had been excluded as alleged by a Senator.
The Senate had, on Tuesday, resolved to summon the Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, after Eyinnaya Abaribe, PDP-Abia, alleged that the eastern corridor had been excluded from the plan.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in April sought the approval of the National Assembly for the federal government to secure loan from the China EXIM Bank for modernization of Lagos-Kano rail, Lagos-Ibadan segment, Kano-Kaduna segment; and the Lagos-Calabar segment.
But while the request is still pending legislative approval, Mr. Abaribe prayed the Senate to suspend the consideration of the loan bid in view of the alleged exclusion of Eastern corridor line and invite Mr. Amaechi to appear to explain basis for the exclusion.
“Exclusion of the Eastern section which links four zones of South-South, South-East, and North -Central and the North-East, and the key cities such as Port Harcourt, Enugu, Aba, Markurdi, Lafia, Gudi, Bauchi and Maiduguri is inexplicable,” the Senator said Tuesday.
However, Mr. Amaechi’s ministry, on Friday, issued a denial, through its spokesperson, Yetunde Sonaike, and explained how the infrastructural objective captured the part of the country said to have been excluded by Mr. Abaribe.
“The federal ministry of transportation wishes to state clearly that the south-east geo-political zone has not been excluded from the federal government ongoing rail projects,” read the statement.
“The two major rail projects of the federal government are the Coastal Rail Project from Lagos-Calabar, which traverse Lagos-Shagamu-Ore-Benin City-Sapele-Warri-Yenagoa.
“With siding to Otuoke-Port Harcourt-Aba-Uyo-Calabar and branch line from Benin City-Abudu-Onitsha, including Onitsha Rail Bridge. Lagos-Kano rail project will traverse Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan-Oshogbo-Ilorin-Jebba-Minna-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano, with branch line from Minna-Abuja and Abuja-Kaduna.
“The federal ministry of transportation wishes to state categorically that the loan from China Exim Bank will be used to fund the following three segments from the two major rail projects. Lagos-Ibadan, from Lagos-Abeokuta-Ibadan with extension to Apapa Port Complex with the segment two of Lagos-Kano.
“Kano-Kaduna, segment 3A of Lagos-Kano, Calabar-Port Harcourt, which will pass through Port Harcourt-Aba-Uyo-Calabar with extension to Onne Deep Sea Port,” it added.
Although Mr. Abaribe had included in his prayers that the consideration of the President’s loan request be suspended pending “correction”, the Senate decided to delete that prayer, but upheld the one seeking Mr. Amaechi’s summon.
The prayer to halt consideration of the loan bid failed, after opposition mounted by Senate President Bukola Saraki and Lagos APC Senator, Gbenga Ashafa, who said the “baby should not be thrown away with the water”.