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Why we can’t complete Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway project – FG

THE Federal Government declared today that it is no longer possible for it to fulfill the promise of finishing the Eastern Railway’s narrow gauge track from Maiduguri to Port Harcourt before the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s term in office.

The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, made this statement, while answering questions from State House reporters following the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

According to the previous minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri line would be finished before the current administration’s term ended.

Recall that President Buhari had two years ago performed the groundbreaking of the $1.96 billion railine project meant to further stimulate economic activities in 14 states it covers.

According to Sambo, who addressed it during the post-FEC briefing, the federal government was unable to secure the foreign counterpart funds embedded in the project, making it impossible to support it as planned.

He said that the project was now being supported by the budget’s 15% counterpart fund.

He said: “The question relating to the promise to deliver the eastern line narrow gauge before the end of this administration; now, the eastern line is the line from Port Harcourt-Maiduguri, it has been segmented in such a way that the first part of the works covers from Port Harcourt to Enugu.

“Now, the truth of the matter is that if there was a promise to deliver this line before the end of this administration, this promise is no longer feasible because, when the contract was approved, it was approved on the premise that 85 per cent will be funded through foreign loan, while 15 per cent will be the counterpart funding for the national budget. Since that approval, we have not been able to obtain that 85 per cent foreign loans for this project.

“We have been funding it through the national budget on the basis of the 15 percent counterpart funding of the federal government. And therefore, funding has been a major challenge for this project.”

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