President Muhammadu Buhari will inaugurate the construction of Kano -Kaduna rail project in the next weeks, the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi disclosed on Friday in Abuja.
The minister, who was speaking at the weekly Presidential Media briefing organised by the State House Media Unit, said already all contracts for the projects had been awarded while the loan for the project was not forthcoming from China as earlier planned.
He said the project would now be funded from the ministry budgetary allocation as the Federal Government would not continue to wait endlessly for the loan.
According to him, the Federal Government has already paid 218million dollars to the contractors, saying additional 100million dollars will be paid to them, making it 318million dollars.
“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.
“We have been waiting for the loan for too long from China and the money has not come.
“So, we decided to fund it from the budget. We already paid 218million dollars to them and we are about to pay another 100million dollars to make it about 318million dollars.
“Kano-Kaduna is about 1.2billion dollars – the moment you pay about 318million dollars, 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 600million dollars.
“So, that should be able to take the project nearly half way 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,’’ he said.
The minister said government had so far paid N13billion for the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri rail project, while another N10 billion would soon be paid to hasten action on the project.
“The way I am pursuing Port Harcourt – Maiduguri, Kano – Kaduna, and I am doing it like a native man. I think I have paid about N13billion for Port Harcourt – Maiduguri and I am about to pay another N10 billion.
“If I get it to N50billion, I am using the black-market rate. I don’t know what they pay at CBN. So, it will now be 2.9 billion dollars and no longer 3.020 billion dollars, and I will continue to do that until we finish the construction,’’ the minister said.