South-East Senate Caucus chairman, Enyinnaya Abaribe, has insisted that Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi must explain why the eastern corridor was allegedly excluded in the rail line projects of the Federal Government.
Abaribe’s demand is coming despite Amaechi’s denial, through a statement by the Ministry of Transport, that the South-East was not excluded from the rail projects.
Abaribe, insisting that Amaechi has explanations to make said in Abuja on Sunday, that it was necessary the minister tells why rail lines in the South-East corridor were billed for concession, while rail lines in other parts of the country would be built with funds borrowed by the Federal Government and which the whole country would pay.
The Senator had earlier on Tuesday at the Senate plenary, in motion entitled, “Outright Omission of Eastern Corridor Rail Line in the Request for Approval of Federal Government 2016-2017 External Borrowing (Rolling Plan),”protested against the supposed exclusion of the South-East, reasoning that the geopolitical zone would not benefit from the projects for which the government was obtaining a loan of $5.851bn from China Exim Bank.
Amaechi in his denial of the allegation had said that Aba in Abia State and Onitsha in Anambra State were among towns covered by the coastal railway corridor.
But Abaribe argued that his motion on the matter was not only about the South-East but “about the second major railway corridor in Nigeria, built by the British, which covers the South-South, South-East, North-Central and the North-East.”
He went further to say, “The corridor is from Port Harcourt (Rivers State) to Maiduguri (Borno State). It covers over 100 towns and major cities, not about Aba or Onitsha; far from it. It industrialised many cities and gave jobs directly and indirectly to thousands.
“In addition, the letter from Mr. President seeking for expedited action on approval of the loan did not specify when the eastern corridor would be modernised. It said that negotiations were on to get a concessionaire for the eastern line. In other words, while we borrow for the western line, we must wait to get some entity interested to concession it (eastern line).”
Meanwhile, when Senator Gbenga Ashafa, during the debate of the motion on Tuesday asked him why the eastern corridor could not wait for the next phase as proposed, Abaribe had answered, “If it is our collective money saved out of our earnings, we can wait for the next season. But since it is a collective debt, why don’t we endeavour to borrow enough and stimulate the growth of every region at the same period?”
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