Senate summons Amaechi over exclusion of Eastern corridor in $5.851b rail project loan

The issue was debated at plenary on Tuesday

The Senate on Tuesday summoned the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, over the alleged exclusion of the Eastern Corridor from modernisation of railway line across the country.

Ameach is expected to appear before the Senate Committee to give full details of the modernisation of railway in the country.

The Senate’s resolution to summon the Minister of Transport was sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe.

‎Abaribe observed with dismay that the above sections of the rail line that the loan was being sought for covers only a section of the country, that is the western corridor or sections.

‎Abaribe further noted that “the loan being a federal government borrowing would be paid for by all sections of the country; therefore every section of the country should be taken into consideration”. 

But the C‎hairman of the Senate Committee on Land Transportation, Senator Olugbenga Ashafa (APC Lagos East), countered the motion, saying the information therein was inadequate and inaccurate.

Ashafa explained that the Muhammadu Buhari administration initially approved the Lagos to Calabar and Lagos to Kano corridors taking into cognizance the Aba and Onitsha rail project.

According to him: “The Lagos to Kano and Calabar to Lagos railway project covers all the geo-political zones and I will show you how. On the Lagos-Calabar coastal you will find the rail cutting across Obudu Cattle Ranch, Calabar-Uyo, Aba-Port Harcourt, Yenagoa-Otuoke, Yenagoa-Ughelli, Sapele-Benin-Agbor, Asaba-Onitsha connecting Benin is Ijebu Ode, Ore, Shagamu, Lagos seaports.

“Until it (the project) is finished you can deduce all the parts of the country it passes and from this, you can see that two major states were from the South East, including where Senator Abaribe comes from have been covered. Uñtil this is finished you can’t see it on ground.

“On the concessioning the General Electric have been summoned by the appropriate committee here in the senate to come and explain the content of that particular concessioning if it has already been given.”

‎Ruling the motion, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, informed the legislators that the National Assembly leadership was already discussing with the Executive on the matter.

Saraki said: “T‎he first letter that came from the President did not specify that the South East, North East axis must also be standard gauge and in that one that was not the case. We insisted at the leadership level that every part of the country must benefit with standard gauge and that has been done.

“The second thing is that we have referred it to the Committee on Foreign and Local Debts, and I think today or yesterday the minister was before them. I think the point we just need here is to follow the spirit of the President’s letter.

“There should be standard gauge everywhere. In processing the loan, there must sincerity and there is commitment in the spirit of the president’s letter.”