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China Offers N278bn Life Line for Railways

Posted by By Rasheed Bisiriyu, Daily Champion (Lagos) on 2006/01/11 | Views: 525 |

China Offers N278bn Life Line for Railways


PLANS by the Federal Government to revitalize the nation's railway system has received a boost with a pledge by China to grant Nigeria a US$2 billion (N278 billion) bilateral loan for this purpose.

PLANS by the Federal Government to revitalize the nation's railway system has received a boost with a pledge by China to grant Nigeria a US$2 billion (N278 billion) bilateral loan for this purpose.

Already talks between the officials of both countries have commenced to actualise the dream of transforming the moribund railways as a viable mode of transportation speedily.

Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Alhaji Abdulrahman Abubakar who gave the hintin Lagos last weekend during a luncheon/interactive section with newsmen said Nigeria is being favoured by the Chinese government as one of the beneficiaries of the bilateral loans the country plans to give to some developing nations, which it also considers allies.

"They are concessionary loans because they won't attract any interest. And the Nigerian government is happy with that arrangement which is for relieving and better than commercial loans which attract (high) interest rate", said Abdulraham.

He however added that the loan would not in any way commit Nigeria to any railway contract or project with China.

According to him, NRC is considering South Korea market to source for locomotive engines, to boost its train services.

Abdulrahman assured that from the first quarter of this year, NRC would begin to witness drastic positive changes. He disclosed that President Olusegun Obasanjo "has taken a positive stand on revitalisation of NRC as key issue for economic revitalisation.

"He (the President) said once the Chinese Government gives the bilateral loan, he is prepared to complement it with counterpart funding and get the Railways fully working".

Specifically on railway rehabilitation, the NRC Chief executive said plans had reached advanced stage to reactivate the nation's major ports, including the Apapa, Port Harcourt and Lily Pond, by the end of the first quarter of this year.

Abdulraham also disclosed of plan to extend the existing Rail lines to Tin Can Island to enable train move containers from the area directly to several part of the country.

"Government is still committed to construction of new lines on standard Guage such as Lagos to Abuja and Lagos-East Line", he stated.

On railway privatisation, Alhaji Abdulraham said it was on course, but added that commissioning was approved for the nation's Railway, which he explained as private/public participation.

Meanwhile, Mr Mike Abogonye, national president, Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Railway Corporation, has lauded the Federal government for settling the outstanding retirement benefits of rail workers.

"We thank the federal government for keeping faith with its promise," he told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

In 2004, government reached an agreement with about 7,000 sacked rail workers to settle their terminal benefits, which was paid last December.

Abogonye said the gesture had brought joy to thousands of dependent relatives and families of the beneficiaries.

He expressed the hope that 2006 would be a good year for both the corporation and its employees, extolling President Obasanjo for showing concern and commitment to turn the NRC around.

"What is left now is their repatriation allowance and meal subsidy," he said.

Abogonye said plans were underway by government to contract out the rehabilitation work on the rail system to a foreign firm.

"We hope there will be continuity in government's proposed rehabilitation programme as the rail system is very important and strategic to the country's growth," Abogonye added.

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Comments (3)

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Abieyuwa(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Otasowie means evening life is better than morning life. There is an error in your “evening life is better than evening life”?

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Naija g(Houston, Minnesota, US)says...

Sokari doesn’t mean joy. Joy is Biobela. Go to the village and ask the meaning of the name.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.