From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
Following the repeated appeals from the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, to the National Assembly to approve the Federal Government borrowing plan. The Senate Committee on land transport has assured the Ministry that the $6 billion loan for the railway projects will be approved.
Chairman of Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, who made the disclosure recently in Abuja, pointed out that though the loan request will go through parliamentary procedures, it will be approved soon.
The Transport Minister had reiterated his appeal to the upper chamber of the National Assembly for the approval of the loan, stressing that it would help the ministry execute the Kano to Kaduna, and Calabar to Port Harcourt railway projects.
According to him; “I made it clear recently that part of the Federal Government loan application to the National Assembly is the $6 billion for three railway projects. I said that the Lagos to Ibadan railway project is in the budget but Kano to Kaduna, Calabar to Port Harcourt are not.
“I also said that since the Chinese government granted us $1.5 billion loan to construct Lagos to Ibadan, we would have started but we were not able because we are waiting for the National Assembly to approve the loan.
“I appeal to Nigerians to beg the National Assembly to approve the money for us. It is called citizen engagement. I can never disrespect the National Assembly, but all I am begging is that the delay in approving the loan application is delaying the ministry,” he said.
Responding, Senator Ashafa said: “The Minister has followed the procedure to that level and the completion of that procedure is time bound and woven with the budget. I am sure you will agree with me that the eight session of the Senate piloted by the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, and his able leadership have been in partnership with this government.
“We are the same APC government and whether you call it change or progress, all are the same. We are all in the same platform to ensure that the people with the power survive. Part of that survival strategy is this $30 billion loan. I want to assure you that it is going to be considered and approved,” he said.
While commenting further on the benefits of the railway project, the Minister said: “Imagine the number of persons that would be employed in the Lagos to Abeokuta to Ibadan railway project.
“There will be caterers to cook for the minimum of 1000 workers to be employed in the over 186 kilometre rail. I feel that the employment will be the best way to come out of recession when money trickles down to the masses through the salaries from the railway workers,” he noted.