By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor
ABUJA â€” Hope has been rekindled in the revitalisation of the railways with the Federal Government readiness to draw from the $500 million loans from China to execute the project.
The hope was brought alive yesterday when a delegation of Chinse Export Import Bank was received by a Federal Government team of Ministers led by Minister of Finance, Dr Mansur Muhtar. Also present at the reception was the Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Alhaji Yakubu Tanimu and the Minister of Transport, Alhaji Ibrahim Bio.
A Federal Government statement yesterday said: â€œThe Federal Government had restated the need to kick-start the Nigeria Railway Modernisation Project Phase 1, constituting the Lagos-Kano axis.”
The Minister of Finance, Dr Mansur Muhtar, who stated this yesterday while receiving the visiting delegation of China EXIM Bank Mission to Nigeria expressed confidence that the visit will afford the technical teams from both countries to finalise arrangements for the draw-down of the $500 Million Concessional Loan for the railway project, which China has granted Nigeria.
He said Nigeria had met all conditions precedent to draw-down which included provision of the counterpart funding, submission of feasibility report, environmental impact assessment and contract agreement for the project.
Muhtar said the delegationâ€™s visit was coming at the heels of the visit of Chinese Foreign Minister to Nigeria and was an indication that practical steps could now be taken to actualise the loan facility and kick-start the railway modernisation project.â€
Also lending his voice to the urgency of the project, Minister of Transport, Alhaji Ibrahim Bio, added that the government had met its obligation by providing the counterpart funding in the supplementary budget and it was, therefore, keen for China to effect a draw-down on the $500 million loan to bring to a closure the discussion, particularly as the supplementary budget spans within a period of three months ending in March 2010.
“In this, case there is a need for China to fast-track the process so that the project can take off by February,” he said.