Tuesday, August 11, 2015

$1billion Rail Project : PMB Queries Diversion Of $600million Foreign Loan

President Muhammed Buhari yesterday demanded an explanation from the ministry of finance on the over $1billion foreign loans obtained by the immediate past administration for rail projects but diverted to other purposes.

Specifically, he frowned at the diversion of a substantial part of the loan of $1.005 billion from the Chinese Exim Bank, which was obtained for the construction of a standard gauge rail line linking Lagos to Kano.

The president, who was informed by the ministry of transport that only $400 million of the said loan was left with the ministry of finance, said it was disappointing to discover that foreign loans acquired by the country under signed agreements were moved from one project to another.

“I hope that due process was followed before such diversions were carried out. Taking money from one project to another has to be done properly”, Buhari warned after top officials of the ministry of transport led by the permanent secretary, Alhaji Mohammed Bashar briefed him on the state of affairs at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to him, it was regrettable that, over the years, government had failed to meet its counter-part funding obligation on some projects, a situation which led to such projects being abandoned or left uncompleted.

President Buhari further stressed the need for a clearer streamlining, harmonization and prioritization of ongoing projects in the transport sector.

Earlier, the permanent secretary had also briefed the president on other challenges facing the transport and maritime sectors.

He listed some the challenges to include the encroachment on railway land, lack of security at inland waterways and the confused nature of agreements between the Nigeria Ports Authority and ports concessionaires.

Briefing journalists after meeting with president, the permanent secretary said the president expressed his commitment in ensuring that ongoing major projects ‎in the transport sector are completed during his tenure.

He noted the laying of tracks on the Abuja-Kaduna rail project had been completed, while locomotives already being paid for are waiting for operations to commence on the route by December this year.

He said: “Basically, what we did was to present to the president the various programmes and projects and the reform efforts we have been undertaking in the last couple of years, the stages of the various projects, especially the railway rehabilitation programme and development in our seaports.

“And also some of the regulatory issues that we sought are due for review and attention. The president is quite impressed with what has been achieved so far and he has indicated his willingness to continue with a lot of projects and programmes already on ground.

“And he has expressed his support, especially when we start talking about the capacity building for individual operators in the country. He is really appreciative of the entrepreneur initiatives of Nigerians and indication that government will continue to give its full support”.


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