FG To Complete Abuja Light Rail Project, ICT Infrastructure With $600m Loan Facility
The Chinese has also stated its commitment to the financing of the third project — the construction of four state-of-the-art airport terminals at $500m in Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt and Enugu — and an agreement is expected to be signed in a matter of weeks.
The signing of the agreement, which includes the approval of the Federal Executive Council and a visit to the Asian country in February by a government delegation, climaxes a long-running process.
Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr, (Mrs.) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala signed for Nigeria while Mr. Sun Ping signed for the managing director of China Exim Bank. Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah; FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed; and Minister of State for Works, Ambassador Yuguda were in the team that worked on the final details of the agreement with officials of the bank.
Also present were Director-General of Debt Management Office, Dr. Abraham Nwankwo and Special Adviser to the President on Performance Monitoring, Professor Sylvester Monye.
Explaining the rationale for prioritising the projects, Okonjo-Iweala said they are targeted at making a difference in the lives of Nigerians across socio-economic segments.
“President Goodluck Jonathan is keeping his promise to Nigerians through these important projects,” she said.
“The light rail in Abuja will improve transportation for all residents, especially the working class. The backbone will help to improve service delivery in areas like education and health, while empowering the youths with better connectivity to the rest of the world.
“And the four new airport terminals will, like the others, create jobs and also ensure that Nigerian air passengers enjoy the services and convenience that their counterparts in other parts of the world take for granted.”
Okonjo-Iweala explained that the facility was obtained on a highly favourable concessional term of 2.5 per cent interest over 20 years with a grace period of seven years, underscoring government’s policy of prudence with loans.
“The light rail project in the Federal Capital Territory, which is at 25 per cent completion will cost $500m,” she added. “When completed, the project will significantly improve the lives of Nigerians, especially those in the lower socio-economic groups who have to travel great distances from their homes on the outskirts to their places of work in the city.”
One part of the intra-city rail network will extend from the city centre to Kubwa and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, while the second will run from the city centre to Masaka in Nassarawa State, as both are high-density, high-traffic routes.
In addition to helping the country achieve the status of a hub on the continent and deepen employment generation in the sector, the terminals will also grow passenger capacity to over 50million from the current 20million, and increase the number of direct and indirect jobs in the sector to 1.5 million from the current 60,000.
Similarly, the Galaxy Backbone is expected to boost the sophistication and effectiveness of the government efforts to tackle security challenges, and also improve connectivity to modern technology, especially for Nigerian youths.