Minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has disclosed that the federal government will borrow less than N100 billion for the Kaduna-Kano standard gauge rail project.
The transportation minister stated that the project will commence in July pending loan approval by the National Assembly.
This was made known on Sunday while inspecting the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge railway ahead of the June 10 date set for the inauguration.
The federal government last year had called on the national assembly to approve a $5.3 billion Chinese loan request to execute the Ibadan-Kano standard guage rail line.
Recall that the loan agreements caused concerns among lawmakers but the minister of information, Lai Mohammed said there was nothing bad in borrowing if invested in infrastructure.
Reacting to criticism on the N100 billion loan, Amaechi said the amount is less than what countries such as America borrow to build infrastructure.
“I am happy Mr. president is doing what he wants to do and not listening to criticisms on this project, because America is borrowing trillions of dollars and we are borrowing less than N100 billion and everyone is talking,” he said.
“I have announced that we will no longer wait for the loan but proceed with the Kano-Kaduna rail line because we have made some financial advancement from our budget, and we still have some money left in the budget.
“We will pay like one-third of the money this year before this budget will expire. When we get the loan, then we will continue from Ibadan to Kano because if we don’t finish from Lagos to Kano, it will make no economic sense.
“Once the loan is approved, the ministry of transportation would begin negotiation and construction on the route, while the loan is a preferred option in making development happen on the railway construction.
“The fact is that we are building these rail lines now that we have no money. Imagine if we did not construct the Lagos-Ibadan rail line at the time we had no money, we wouldn’t have been here now.
“If you check out the loans, they are not like other loans. Other loans are lent straight to the government, but we are paying straight to the contractors, and people are still not satisfied.
Amaechi warned that there would be zero tolerance or anyone who tried to vandalise the standard gauge railway facilities, while offenders would be remanded in prison pending the replacement of the vandalised equipment.
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