Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, says the ongoing National Assembly investigation may frustrate the loan agreement between Nigeria and China to finance the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail project.
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Amaechi, who stated this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, said the Chinese government had said if there are issues, the negotiations will not be concluded.
“The investigation being carried out by National Assembly may frustrate the loan agreement between us and China on the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail project.
“So, if tomorrow we are unable to construct Port Harcourt to Maiduguri railway because we didn’t get the loan, it is because of the investigation by NASS.
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“I told the National Assembly that they can investigate but they should allow us get the loan first.
“If they stop the work from Ibadan to Kano, it is because of the investigations, same with Lagos to Calabar railway.
“If you think there is corruption, investigate corruption. What we are saying is that we should conclude negotiation first because there is pressure affecting the Chinese government in which they are talking to us directly.
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“So, for me, what is primary here should be national interest.
“We have the approval to construct the Lagos-Ibadan, Lagos-Kano and Lagos-Calabar rail lines; we are also at the point of negotiating for the loans.
“Summoning us to the National Assembly to come and address the loans would look like the government is no longer interested in the loan,’’ he said.
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On plans to repay the loans, the minister said that profit generated from the train service would be used through a special account to be opened for that purpose.
Amaechi, however, debunked insinuations that the Chinese loan was being paid directly to the Nigerian government to execute the rail projects.
“One good thing about the loan we are collecting is that they are not paid to us, they are paid directly to the contractors who execute those projects,’’ he explained.
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On insecurity on Nigerian waterways, Amaechi said that it was time for the federal government to address the issues of companies making money from insecurity in the country.
He, however, said that the ministry was set to address the issue by executing the $195 million contract meant to address the problem of insecurity on the waterways.