President Muhammadu Buhari has given the directive that all the 36 state capitals should be connected with rail in the ongoing railway projects.
The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, said this on Thursday at the meeting with the Chairman Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Shehu Sani.
The meeting, also attended by the Ministers of Finance; Budget and National Planning; and Power, Works and Housing, was in connection with President Buhari’s loan request of $5.5 billion sent to the Senate.
Mr. Amaechi said that the central rail line project connecting several communities of northern and southern Nigeria would be completed in June, next year.
According to him, 17 coaches are expected to arrive in November and out of the number, 10 will be deployed to Abuja-Kaduna rail line while the remaining seven will be deployed to the Itakpe-Warri rail line.
Mr. Amaechi said that part of the money being requested now for approval by the Senate was to execute the rail projects covering Kano-Kaduna, and Lagos-Ibadan networks.
Mr. Sani had earlier advised that if Nigeria “must borrow, it must borrow responsibly”.
Mr. Sani said: “the committee has the mandate to examine the merits and otherwise of the current loan request of $5.5 billion of the president.
“If we must bequeath to the future generation a pile of debt, it must be justified with commensurate infrastructural proof of the value of the debt.
“The payment plan of this debt will undoubtedly last the length of our lifetimes and possibly beyond.
“We must leave behind a legacy that will appease and answer the questions the next generation of Nigerians will ask,” Mr. Sani said
Also providing insight into the loan request, the Director-General, Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, explained that the loans have sustainable benefits that would live beyond the present generation of Nigerians.
“What we should take away is that we are going into projects whose benefits don’t go away.
“The roads don’t go away, the schools don’t go away, and the hospitals don’t go away but all that we need to do is to maintain them properly and that is the explanation I want to make on that,” she said.