Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said that the Chinese EximBank that initially promised to provide 85 per cent of the funds for the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, has reduced its exposure by some seven percent.
It should be noted that the ground-breaking for the standard gauge rail project, which will stretch to the Apapa Port was done by Vice President Osinbajo in early March.
The Federal Government has already paid N60 billion for the project, Amaechi today spoke about a challenge with the counterpart fund.
He said that the Chinese EXIM Bank was to fund 85 per cent of the project initially, but it was currently funding 78 per cent.
He said that the bank insisted it would not pay for land, survey and tax, stating that with the current foreign exchange rate and the extension of the rail to the ports, the project could not be completed as scheduled in 2018.
Amaechi made this known today during a turbulent meeting with four committees of the House of Representatives, which threatened to cut funding for the ministry this year if it fails to spend the N243billion in its vault.
Spokesmen of the committees made the threat after expressing dissatisfaction over the implementation of the 2016 Budget by the ministry.
They are Committees on Aviation; Land Transport; Maritime Safety and Administration; Ports, Harbours and Waterways.
The committees, which visited the ministry’s headquarters in Abuja on oversight function, threatened to give zero allocation to the ministry in 2017.
Mr Mohammed Bago, the Chairman, Committee on Maritime Safety and Administration, said that the ministry presented different documents to the committees which did not contain facts.
He said that the ministry had received N243 billion and had yet to spend it, adding that if the money was not used before the end of the month, it would receive zero allocation in 2017.
“The different positions made to the committee of the house on both land transport, ports and harbour, maritime safety and administration as well as aviation has varied.
“We have received three different documents till date and all of them are not consistent and that is why we have asked for a new document to ascertain the value of what this project is all about.
“We are not going to appropriate on this budget until we have the fact and figure and if we do not have the facts and figure, the ministry of transport will get zero allocation.
“They have received 243 billion and they have not spent it when Ministry of Health needs money because people are dying of meningitis, Nigerian soldiers are dying in Sambisa, no money to fund the soldiers.
“The ministry of transportation is seating on billions of Nigerians’ naira released to it and is not utilised.’’