From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has recommended that anyone caught engaging in vandalism of railway facilities in the country be charge with manslaughter.
He gave the recommendation Friday as guests of the ministerial media briefing organized by the Presidential Communications Team at the presidential villa, Abuja.
According to him, applying stringent laws will curb the deadly act, which can cause train derailment and killing unsuspecting passengers.
The minister lamented that railway clips are frequently stolen causing the country huge sums of money in foreign currency to replace.
Recall that the Police had last week, arraigned suspected railway vandals at the Federal High Court sitting in Lafia, the Nasarawa State capital.
The police charged the suspects for conspiracy, economic sabotage, and terrorism while the lawyer of the Chinese national is charged for aiding, facilitating, and abetment of terrorism for offering a bribe to the police to aid the escape of his client.
He further disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari will launch the construction of Kano -Kaduna rail project in the next few weeks.
The minister also disclosed that the Federal Government has committed the sum of $280 million for the $1.2 billion for Kaduna-Kano rail, which is set to begin in two weeks and another further $100 million will be added in the coming weeks, and that funding may rise to $600 million by the end of the year.
The minister explained that funding for the new project will come from the federal budget while Chinese financing is being awaited.
Amaechi said he is adopting a model that can help minimise external borrowing.
Nigeria owed China $3.4 billion as of March 31, according to the Debt Management Office. The amount covers 11 loan facilities from the China Exim Bank since 2010.
He said, “In the next two weeks, we should be launching and commencing immediately the construction of Kano-Kaduna rail project.
“The president will be launching it and then we will commence construction immediately.
“The reason why we are commencing construction immediately is that all the necessary contracts have been awarded.”
“So, we decided to fund it from the budget. We already paid $218 million dollars to them and we are about to pay another $100 million to make it about $318 million.
“Kano-Kaduna is about $1.2 billion – the moment you pay about $318 million, you must have paid one-third of the project.
“So, we believe that by the time we get the loan we must have funded up to $600 million.
“So, that should be able to take the project nearly halfway before the fund will come because if we continue to wait for the loan whether, from China or Europe, we may likely not complete it before we go.”
Amaechi also affirmed that that the Lekki deep sea port will be completed before the end of the present administration.
Amaechi revealed that Nigeria and China have signed a contract to manufacture train coaches locally in the country following an initial five year period of just the local assembling of the components.
Similarly, he said an agreement has been signed for the Chinese to build a rail component manufacturing factory in Kajola, Ogun state due to be commissioned in 2021 and as well, a University in Daura, Katsina state to help localize railway technology.
Amaechi disclosed that 300 Nigerians have been sponsored to understudy rail technology in China and will be absorbed into the Transportation ministry on completion of their study.
Breaking News, Nigerians can now work in Nigeria and get paid in US Dollars, click hereto apply today.
Source: Nigerian Newspapers Online