South-East Not Marginalized In Rail Projects – Amaechi
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi says it is not true that Igbos have been denied the opportunity of using the Eastern corridor rail line.
He has appeared before the Senate over allegation of the outright omission of the South-East in the 2016-2018 external borrowing (Rolling) plan and the rail services.
Ameachi told the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts on Tuesday that the two main rail projects in the country, which was the Lagos-Kano and the coastal rail from Lagos to Calabar were not conceived or approved by the present administration.
He said the present administration is only implementing the rail projects in three segments, which was Lagos-Ibadan, Kaduna-Kano and Calabar-Port Harcourt through counterpart funding.
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“What I heard was that, the Igbos said they have been denied the right to rail and I thought we should debunk that, it is not true that Igbos have been denied the opportunity of using the rail.
“I will start by saying that they are included; none of these contracts was awarded by us.
“The Lagos –Kano was awarded by President Olusegun Obansanjo in 2006.
“Which cover Lagos-Ibadan-Ilorin-Minna-Kaduna-Kano, with a branch line from Minna-Abuja-Kaduna, which was awarded at the cost of $8.3billion.
“In 2014, President Goodluck Jonathan awarded the coastal rail line, which the Igbos was included, the rail takes-off from Lagos-Shagamu-Ijebu Ode-Benin-Sapele-Warri-Yenagoa with a siding to Otuoke to Port Harcourt.
“If you know the geography of Nigeria very well, from Port Harcourt, you can go to Uyo without going to Aba and that is what is called the East-West road.
“But to ensure that the Igbos were included it took off from Port Harcourt to Aba and Aba is part of South East in Abia state, which is longer and costly to Uyo, then Calabar,” he said.
He said that an additional section from Benin-Abudu-Agbor-Uko-Ogwashukwu-Asaba to Onitsha, stating that Onitsha was in Anambra.
According to him, it will be wrong for anybody to say that the Igbos were not carried along in course of rail development.
Amaechi, said that the coastal rail from Lagos to calabar was awarded at 11.974 billion dollars, which was brought down to 11.1billion dollars under Buhari administration, saving 800million dollars.
“So, both projects may not have covered the entire North East and South East but at least it got to South East either through Aba or Onitsha."