The federal government has earmarked N12.6 trillion for the construction of four standard gauge rail lines in different parts of the country in 2021 including the Kano-Katsina-Maradi border rail line.
Minister of Transportation, Hon Rotimi Amaechi, who disclosed this while defending the 2021 budget of his ministry before the Senate Joint Committee on Transport yesterday, however, explained that the multiple railway projects commencing by year 2021 would be financed through budgetary and counterpart fundings and was aimed at achieving intermodal transportation across the nation.
He listed the projects to include construction of 378km single track standard gauge rail line traversing Kano – Katsina – Jibiya with a 20km extension to the commercial border town of Maradi in Niger Republic and a branch line, Kano – Dutse.
The other rail projects, according to the minister, are reconstruction and rehabilitation of new Port Harcourt – Maiduguri ( Eastern Narrow Gauge Railways), construction of the Central railway from Itakpe to Abuja and construction to a new rail line to Warri Port.
On funding, Amaechi said three of the projects namely Kano to Maradi, Port Harcourt to Maiduguri and Lagos to Calabar rail lines, would be funded through foreign loans already being negotiated by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed.
He said the construction of Lagos – Ibadan Standard Gauge line was about 92% completed adding that for the project to achieve full loan drawdown from co-financier (China EXIM Bank ) and attain practical completion construction of pedestrian and overpass bridges have to be completed.
He said: “These additional and extra works amounting to $656million which is to be financed 100% by the Federal Government of Nigeria has been approved by the Federal Executive Council for implementation.
“The project contractor, Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited on the instruction of the ministry, has commenced work and reached advanced stages. Therefore, in order not to forestall the progress of implementation, adequate fund needs to be provided in the 2021 budget proposals to facilitate its completion.”
The ministry, he added, was proposing for 2021 a total capital budget of N205.161 billion for Land Transportation and N204.316 billion for Marine Transportation as well as overhead of N358.799 million.
“The aims and objectives of these proposals are to make significant progress on all ongoing projects and to complete and deliver modern railway services that would provide an efficient and cost effective alternative transport system for economic growth and creation of job opportunities for the citizenry.”
The chairmen and members of the joint committees, however, refused to engage the minister on the budgetary proposals for not making required documents available to them before his presentation.
Chairman of Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Danjuma Goje, said since documents containing the budgetary proposals were just made available to them by the minister during his presentation, there was nothing they could do at that stage.
His words: “These documents supposed to get to us as committees oversighting your ministry at least 24 hours before presentation. Since you have failed to do so, we would have to peruse the documents very critically and re-invite you for another session, if required.”
Amaechi thereafter instructed the Permanent Secretary and relevant Directors in the ministry not to allow such things to happen again.
“The Permanent Secretary and the relevant Directors on budgeting procedures and processes in the Ministry, should please always ensure that budget documents meant for presentation in the National Assembly get to the concerned Committees at least four days before the day of presentation”, he directed.
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