Probe of Chinese railway loan may derail rail projects – Amaechi

Yusuf Bello| Nigeria’s minister of transportation and former governor of oil-rich Rivers state on Wednesday appealed to the National Assembly not continue wits its probe of the Chinese government-backed $500 million loan.

The minister who made the appeal when he appeared before an investigative committee of the House of Representatives Committee on Treaties and Protocols, said, the loan which is meant for the completion of the Federal Government’s rail projects may be called back by the Chinese authorities if the executive and the legislature appear not to be on the same page.

According to Amechi, constant probing of the loan will likely compel the Chinese government to withdraw the facility.

The News Agency of Nigeria quoted the minister to have said, “The investigation being carried out by the 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.

“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. 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.”

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.

The House committee directed the minister to return on August 17 with further details on the loans and projects.

With agency report

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