By Dipo Olowookere
President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly, seeking its approval to borrow about $5.9 billion to carry out some upgrades of rails.
His letter was read on Wednesday on the floor of the House of Representatives by its Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara.
The President said the $5.851 billion he is planning to borrow “form part of the overall money for the rail strategy. We are in the process of completing the concession of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri line to immediately link the eastern part of the nation.
“We fully intend to source further concessioning funding to ultimately upgrade this critical line to high speed standard gauge.
“These projects form the overall plan to resuscitate the rail transport across the nation and thereby drive inclusive growth.”
Mr Buhari reminded the lawmakers that the loan would enable Nigeria access the China-African fund provided for in the 2016-2018 external borrowing plan.
“I wish to refer to my earlier letter with respect to the above subject and to inform the distinguished Senate that the China Exim bank has approved our request for a loan to execute the Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Lagos-Ibadan segment for a sum of $1.231 billion.”
In the letter sent to both the Senate and House of Representatives, the President further said, “The China government has also informed us that the approval of the Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Kano-Kaduna segment and coastal railway project, the Lagos-Calabar segment are imminent.
“China Exim supported projects; Lagos-Kano modernisation projects, Lagos-Ibadan segment $1.231 billion; Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Kano-Kaduna segment $1.146 billion and coastal railway project, the Lagos-Calabar segment 3.474 billion, making a total of 5.851 billion.
“As you are aware the funds available under the China-African fund are limited and loan applications from all over Africa countries are funded based on first come, first serve and therefore there is an urgent need to sign these loans as soon as they are approved or we may lose out in the event that we delayed in signing the loan agreement.”
He expressed confidence that his request would be granted and thanked the National Assembly for its usual support.
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