By Onozure Dania
The Federal Ministry of Transport has responded to a Freedom of Information, FOI request by former 2nd Vice-President of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr Monday Ubani and Lagos-based lawyer, John Nwokwu for detailed information of the $1.96billion Kano-Niger Republic rail project.
Ubani and Nwokwu had last month sought details of the controversial rail project using the FOI Act insisting that Nigerians deserve to know amongst other things the economic benefits of the project, including the funding mechanism.
The Ministry last week responded to the demand and gave more details of the project and insisted that the actual cost of the project is USD 1,959,744,723,71inclusive of 7.5 per cent VAT.
It also confirmed that the track length of the rail is 378km starting from Kano – Danbatta – Kazana – Daura – Meshi – Kastina – Jibiya – Maradi (Niger Republic) with a branch line to Dutse in Jigawa State. It also confirmed that only 20km of the track length is within the Niger Republic while 358km is within Nigeria.
The MoT response reads, “Mota-Engil Africa in line with the ICRC guidelines and Public Procurement Act, 2007, was recommended as the preferred bidder for the Project haven been ranked first for submitting an excellent response to the RFP, and providing all the required information.
On budgetary allocation for the rail project, the Ministry claimed in its response that the project is to be 100% funded by Messrs Mota-Engil Africa under an Engineering, Procurement, Construction, and Financing (EPC+ F) model through a combination of lenders from Export Credit Agencies (ECA) and commercial facilities backed by a sovereign guarantee. It, however, failed to provide any Memorandum of Understanding or agreement between the Ministry and MotaEngil.
Enumerating the economic benefits of the project, the Ministry said its study estimates a total cost of road accidents saved per year is USD 57,224,095. Other economic benefits according to the Ministry include saving from greenhouse gases reduction, saving in road maintenance and promotion of Intra Africa Trade.
Ubani in a statement commended the unusual timely response of the Ministry. He, however, added that he would study the response along with his partners to fashion out the best possible response. The method of funding and the liability of the funding on Nigerians, to him, appears suspicious.
According to him, the contract papers were not provided by the Ministry in clear compliance with the Freedom of Information Act.
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Source: Vanguard Newspaper