The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, said yesterday that the Federal Government hoped to complete the ongoing rail projects across the country with multi-billion dollar loans from financial institutions based in China, Portugal and Turkey.
Sambo disclosed this when he appeared before the Joint National Assembly Committee on Land and Marine Transport, chaired by Senator Danjuma Goje to defend the 2023 budget of the ministry.
He explained that the Ministry was committed to the implementation of the Nigeria Railway Modernization project.
He said the railway network was being progressively expanded through yearly budgetary appropriations since the Federal Government was facing challenges in securing counterpart funding through loans.
Sambo said: “Currently, the implementation of the Kaduna-Kano, Port Harcourt to Maiduguri and Kano – Maradi segments of the Railway Modernization is ongoing with the Federal Government counterpart funding in the 2022 appropriation.
“The Ministry hopes that the Federal Ministry of Finance concludes negotiation of the loans with infrastructure development finance institutions of Chinese, Portuguese and Turkish origin to implement the projects.
“To ensure finalising and signing of the loan agreements, evidence of source of funding of the balance of the advance payment and other aspects of work to be financed directly by the Federal Government has to be made available to these financial institutions through adequate budgetary provisions in the year 2023 budget and subsequent budgets.”
He also said the Lagos – Ibadan segment of the Lagos – Kano and Itakpe to Warri railway projects were fully operational and receiving patronage from the general public.
To reach practical completion on the projects, the Minister said some aspects of works, including construction of overpass bridges, connection to the national grid and other ancillary provisions had to be completed.
The Minister said: “Adequate funds need to be provided in the 2023 budget to facilitate the practical completion of the projects.
The Minister lamented the sad occurrence on the Abuja – Kaduna Rail incident earlier in the year and said plans were ongoing to resume service there.
“With the release of those abducted, the Ministry plans to commence operation on the line, but not without taking proper precaution,” he said.
He explained that necessary security gadgets would be installed to monitor the line and forestall a reoccurrence.
He expressed the hope that members of the National Assembly would assist the Ministry in achieving the plan.
He told the lawmakers that his ministry had proposed a total capital budget of N92, 251,422,746 and overhead of N382,185, 472
He added that the total capital appropriation of the Ministry for 2022 was N147, 549,080,677 out of which N52,134,727,253.22 representing 35.33per cent had been released to date.
He said N38,904,208,345 had been utilised as of 25 October, 2022. He said N358, 799,998 was appropriated for Overhead expenditure out of which N209, 299,998.81 was released.
He said the sum of N180, 623,089.34 of the released amount was expended as at 25th October, 2022.
The Chairman of the Joint National Assembly Committee on Land and Marine Transport, Senator Goje, expressed concern over the extension of the implementation of the capital component of the yearly budget beyond each fiscal year.
Goje said: “The extension of the implementation of the capital component of the annual budget by three months, had defeated the success recorded by the 9th National Assembly to reverse the country’s budget cycle from January to December.”