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$15BN LAGOS-CALABAR RAIL-LINE UNDERWAY

By NBF News
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The Federal Government has demanded a review of the proposed Lagos to Calabar and Maiduguri to Lagos railway line project such that it operates as an 'unsolicited' Public Private Partnership (PPP) deal.

A US firm, New Dawn Development International Limited (NDDIL) had put forward the idea for the project to the Federal Government saying it would require about $15billion to bring it on stream, and that it was prepared to source for the funds from banks and finance institutions from the United States of America if it gets the government nod.

The project, already, has received the backing of the Eastern Professionals' Forum who said it had 'huge economic benefits and inherent potentials for advancing relations between the United States and Nigeria' and could also act as the greatest catalysts that will boost transportation, trade and investment between the eastern and western part of the country and also a link between the northeast and southwest zones of Nigeria.

A letter signed by Mansur Ahmed, Director general, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, a regulatory body which is under The Presidency, said 'the unsolicited proposal must of necessity thoroughly evaluate the economic and financial parameters of the project and will highlight the commercial viability of the project and outline the most effective PPP model for the project including an appropriate financial model/risk allocation matrix between the public and private sector.'

Mansur said government welcomed the idea of a private railway transportation project, but that it would only attend to the proposal if tailored and resubmitted to meet the unsolicited PPP proposal guidelines provided by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission.

The US firm said its target for the project was 'to give Nigerians in the South and Easts of the country a reliable and affordable alternative means of transporting passengers, goods and information/data across the country and also use the project as a catalysts for revamping the nation's economy and enticing other major US investors to consider Nigeria as the first choice for investment.'

A release by the Easter Professionals' Forum said 'the huge capital inflow from the project will have far-reaching beneficial effects on so many sectors of the economy, and will, in fact, shake Nigeria up from its economic slumber.' 'This railway project will be a boom for agriculture in nigeria. Fortunately, much of the area that the new route will pass through have actually been called the agricultureal belt of Nigeria. There are so many other ways this project will impact on Nigeria.

For example, it will carry fibre-optic cable lines and even power lines. This will improve telecommunications, and make access to telecoms and internet services faster, inexpensive, and available to many areas without these services. It will make for efficient distribution of electricity, it will also have tank farms for downstream petroleum products along its corridor and it will take much of traffic of heavy cargo transport off our roads and this will make our roads last longer.' About 10 to 15 million jobs are to be created directly and indirectly from the project.