Lawmakers Ask FG to Resume $14.4bn East-West Rail Line Project

Udora Orizu in Abuja

The House of Representatives has urged the federal government to reverse its earlier decision on the $14.4 billion east-west rail line project, by continuing its implementation because the economic importance of the project to the nation.n

The House also urged the federal government to review its 25-Year Railway Strategic Plan part of which is to unbundle and commercialize the Nigeria Railway Corporation.n

It mandated its Committee on Land Transportation to liaise with Federal Ministry of Transportation and other relevant government agencies to ensure that the East-West Coastal Rail Project is captured in the 2023 budget estimates.

The resolutions of the House followed the unanimous adoption of a motion moved by Hon. Dozie Nwankwo, at plenary on Tuesday.

Moving the motion, Nwankwo said the Federal Executive Council had in April 2017, granted approval for the construction of 1,400km Standard Gauge East-West Coastal Rail Line Project linking Lagos-Ore-Benin-SapeleWarri-Yenagoa-PortHarcourt-Aba-Uyo-Calabar-Akamkpa-Ikom with a branch line from Benin to Asaba-Onitsha-Port Harcourt-Onne Deep Seaport.

He noted that the opting out of Exim Bank of China, the contractor to execute the project, the Federal Government, in March 2021, made arrangements for $11billion alternate counterpart funding with Standard Chartered Bank out of the $14.4 billion required to execute the project.

Nwankwo expressed concern that the Federal Ministry of Transportation stopped the project this year, despite the concluded arrangement with Standard Chartered Bank and the Federal Government’s N30 billion commitment to the contractor.

He also expressed concern that the non-completion of the rail project has aggravated the problems of travelers who suffer delay due to the deplorable state of the road coupled with check-points along Calabar- Lagos road.

The lawmaker said: “Aware that in August 2021, the Federal Executive Council approved the award of a contract valued at eleven billion, one hundred and seventy-four million, seven hundred and sixty-nine thousand Dollar ($11,174, 769, 000) for the project. Also aware of the importance rail line project to the socio-economic development of the country which necessitated the accelerated completion of the project.

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