FG: Property Forfeiture, Not Part of Loan Agreement with China

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Kasim Sumaina in Abuja

Following the taking over of infrastructures of many African and some Asia countries that could not repay their debt to China, the federal government has allayed the fear of many Nigerians who have reservation about the financial assistance being given to the country by China Exim Bank.

Countries like, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Kenya among other countries are facing pressure of forfeiting their infrastructures to China over unpaid debt.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, gave the assurance in Nairobi, Kenya at the 6th Annual East African Transport Infrastructure conference that, the agreements Nigeria entered into with the China Exim bank does not include property takeover in case of Nigeria’s inability to repay.

Amaechi, in a statement by the Director of Press of the ministry, Muhammad Idris, said, “I don’t know the arrangement these countries made with Exim bank; I do not think we will have any problems with repaying our loans .

“The countries that they are talking about are Kenya, Somalia and Sudan. These are some countries that have not been able to repay their loans I think. So, what they (China) are doing is that, they are taking over to manage and get their money but it is not so in Nigeria.”

He said “In fact, it is affecting our ability to borrow and they are now saying look, we can’t lend to you because these people are not ready to pay back. How do we know you are going to pay back?

He further said: “We are talking with them to have a meeting with them to say that by June, we should be able to say this is our repayment plan. It also depends on what agreement plan you have with them, our agreement does not include the fact that they will come and take over our sea ports or railways or airports.

“We believe that we can pay back using our own money. That shouldn’t be any problem, our focus should be to run this infrastructure efficiently so we can pay back and there is no plan for them to manage any of it” he stated.

Amaechi lamented that, “If you don’t go to China, who will give you money! America is going to China even Russia; what is wrong if Nigeria goes to China, I think we should not be afraid of China”.

The minister observed that, “nobody runs railway with passengers’ fare. You can never get one naira out of it. Nigerians think railway is just to carry passengers but the problem is that the goods that should be on the rail are the ones on the road and its destroying the road. Once we conclude the rail projects and those goods are transferred to the rail, that is when we will start making money to pay our debts.

“Currently our trains are carrying passengers. People are celebrating Lagos-Ibadan because they are looking at it that oh , I’ll just jump into the train and one hour, I am already in Ibadan.

“That’s not the overall aim. The reason why the federal government said we must get to the sea ports is to decongest the Apapa sea ports. That is where the money lies,” he noted.