The Minister of Transportation, Chief Rotimi Amaechi says there is no money yet with the Federal Government to commence the construction of $26 billion Eastern railway in the country.
Amaechi, who stated this Wednesday in a chat with State House Correspondents in Abuja, stated that “There are approvals, but we have to look for the money. The money is just not there. It is not easy; it is $26 billion and you don’t pluck it from the sky.”
The minister, who briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the progress made so far on the transportation sector especially on railway project, further said government was expecting 17 locomotives, 10 for Kaduna/Abuja axis and seven for Itakpe-Warri axis.
He declared “You are aware that we have gotten approval for the eastern flank of the Nigerian Railway modernisation which has to do with from Port Harcourt –Maiduguri-Aba- Owerri-Enugu-Umuahia-Markurdi-Abakiliki and Awka- Lafia-Bauchi-Gombe-Yola- Damaturu-Borno.
And also the other railway from Kano to Maradi in Niger Republic, I need to brief the President about how we are progressing with negotiations of loans and others and our possible financiers,” the minister noted.
On whether the eastern railway modernisation project will be executed through Public-Private Partnership (PPP), Amaechi said “it was the thinking of government but that private investors most times do not want to invest in railway project. That (PPP) is the first line of action; we will try and see if we can work on PPP particularly as it patterns to the seaport.
Don’t forget that two deep seaports have been approved; Bonny deep seaport and the Warri deep seaport. For the Port Harcourt Railway Industrial Park, we should also be able to implement that through PPP. l hope we can but l doubt if it will be easy to get railway as PPP because it is quite expensive.”
The Minister said that the Nigeria Port Authority, NPA, has commenced the process for the dredging of Calabar port, and had already advertised for it, adding that there was arrangement to carry out the dredging through PPP.
“He is also pleased with what we have done in terms of the narrow gauge. Between now and December, we should ensure efficiency in the narrow gauge. We are bringing in more locomotives, coaches and wagons.