The federal government said yesterday that failure of National Assembly to approve $30bn foreign loan requested by President Muhammadu Buhari is stalling the execution of the Eastern rail lines project.
This is even as it said the sum of $12.8bn is required to construct a standard gauge of rail lines from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi stated this yesterday when he appeared before the Senate’s joint committees on Land Transport , Local and Foreign Debts.
The joint Senate committee is investigating an alleged exclusion and abandonement of the Eastern rail lines in the ongoing rail revitalization projects across the country.
Chairman of the Committee, Senator Gbenga Ashafa had urged the federal government to ensure that no section of the country was excluded from the rail project.
But Amaechi insisted no section is excluded but that the National Assembly is refusing to approve the sum of $30bn foreign loan the federal government requested for the execution of the project.
It would be recalled that the Senate had last week, mandated the joint committees to summon the Minister to offer clarifications on the non-execution of the rail lines project.
Yesterday, during his appearance, Amaechi dispelled the allegations that there was a plan to exclude the Eastern region from the rail project.
He, however, told the lawmakers that the rail lines had already been captured in the 2018 borrowing plans of the federal government.
The minister further explained that the required design for the project had been done and completed but approval for both the design and costing are being delayed by bureaucratic bottlenecks which he said, were caused by the Public Procurement Act ( PPA).
“The Public Procurement Act is very tedious and takes a long time to conclude the process which must be followed because President Buhari had always insisted that the rule of law be followed to the letter.
“The President insists on rule of law and the law passed by the National Assembly in terms of public procurement is very tedious and not easy to conclude; it takes a very long time.
“ Similarly, the law passed by the National Assembly on the Bureau for Public procurement is very tedious”,he said.
Speaking further, he intimated that, following paucity of funds, the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led administration had decided to adopt a systematic approach in the project execution to be completed if the loan is approved.
“Let me make it clear that the country does not have the resources to do railway in every village. It is not possible. $2.7 billion is N1trillion”.
“So, for the railway you want to do from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri,it is about $12.8billion which is about N9trillion – equivalent to one year budget of Nigeria,” Amaechi stated.