The Federal Government has blamed delays in completing some major projects, including railways, on the paucity of funds.
Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who spoke to The Guardian NEWSPAPER, last weekend, hinted that the Chinese have stopped funding Nigerian government projects, leading to shopping for loans in Europe to complete existing jobs.
“We are stuck with lots of our projects because we cannot get money. The Chinese are no longer funding. So, we are now pursuing money in Europe. And when I look at the money they are borrowing in other countries and I compare with the one we have borrowed, the kind of comments by Nigerians will put you off,” he said.
The minister, however, noted that the Abuja-Itakpe railway, which will link the existing Itakpe-Delta rail line, is under way. He said the link rail would have been completed but for misunderstanding with a Chinese contractor. He assured that once the issues surrounding the project are resolved, work would begin on the route.
He, however, expressed optimism that movement and trade between Abuja and the South/South region would be seamless.
“Mr. President has approved and awarded a contract from Lagos to Calabar. It is 90 per cent South-South and it is $11.1billion: the costliest railway in Nigeria! What else do you want me to do? Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri railway will start this year. It is likely to start by next month.
“What is holding us in Lagos-Calabar is that we are trying to bring in a second contractor to assist the first one. Once we finish with that and they agree, before the end of the year, we will get the loan and they will start work. So, if it is to assess me, don’t worry about that; I am not only a Nigerian, I am a politician,” he said.
“I will continue to say it, as a person who comes from the South-South, that the first rail line that makes money for the country is Lagos-Kano. Once we fix Lagos-Kano, the next most important rail line is Port Harcourt-Maiduguri. Then, the next will be Lagos-Calabar, which is South-South belt, and that is what the President is doing”, Amaechi added.