FG approves $2.3bn loan for Lagos-Calabar coastal rail line

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The Federal Government has approved the request from the Ministry of Transportation to source $2.3 billion loan to prosecute the Lagos-Calabar coastal rail line. Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who made the disclosure during his valedictory press briefing in Abuja yesterday, said that it would connect the central lines in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Onitsha, Benin and Delta.

“The Federal Government has approved that we seek a loan for $2.3 billion to start work on the Lagos-Calabar coastal rail. We are taking the segment that starts from Port Harcourt-Warri to join the central line that goes to Abuja.

“Another segment will starts from Benin-Onitsha, but as it gets to Onitsha, it will join central line again at Agbor. The Port Harcourt-Warri central line will join central line at Warri and at Agbor. They are all part of coastal rail line which is about $11.1 billion,” he said.

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Recalling his close to four years journey as the ministry boss, he said the landmark projects he executed include completing the Abuja-Kaduna railway line, and the laying of Lagos-Ibadan rail tracks.

The former Rivers State governor further argued that, though the ministry has been under pressure to increase the number of coaches and locomotives on Abuja-Kaduna line, solving the insecurity along the road might even make the venture useless.

“There are issues the president want us to conclude at the ministry when he posted us. He wanted us to conclude Abuja-Kaduna rail line. We got the approval for the fund in no distance time.

“We visited the Daughters of Charity because the premises was on the right of way. I have to bring my experience to bear as a Catholic. We gave them land, fenced it and constructed the railway line. We provided funds for the purchase of coaches and locomotives. Today, nearly everybody who goes to Kaduna from Abuja now use the train. I think it is the star project of the ministry. We provided for 300 persons per day but now we have 2000 persons per day.

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“Even if we bring in the two additional coaches we are bringing from Itakpe, it will still not solve the problem of pressure. The suggestion is that we should buy more coaches but even if we do that, once we solve the problem of insecurity along the Abuja-Kaduna road, most of those coaches will be useless because the pressure will go back to the road.

“Those who own cars would want to go with their convoy. However, we have placed order for coaches we want to deploy to the route as soon as they are ready. When it will be ready, I don’t know. The Permanent Secretary and whoever will be the Minister can take that pressure. After this week, that pressure goes off me and people will stop sending text message,” he said.

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Meanwhile the National Assembly has assured the Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX) of its desire to formulate quality legislations that will give more impetus to foster more economic growth and development of the country.

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