Shehu Sani commends FCTA on rail transport…As Minister reels economic benefit

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The Chairman, Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Shehu Sani has commended the FCT Administration over the success achieved on the Abuja Light Rail project, saying it has put Abuja in good stead and in conformity with other cities of the world.

Senator Sani made these commendations when members of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts paid an oversight visit to the FCT Administration on Monday, November 5, 2018.

The Committee Chairman, who appeared in doubt over the local content aspect of the project, said it would be more beneficial to have Nigerians fully involved in the implementation and operation of the railway project.

The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa however allayed the fears of the Committee in this regard, noting that consultants handling the project were mainly Nigerians with many FCT engineers working with the Chinese to deliver on the projects.

The Minister said the commencement of railway services is already stimulating investments on the railway corridors and helping to develop the capacity of some young Nigerians in railway technology, operations and ancillary services.

The Minister stated that one of the various benefits from the railway project is the ease of transportation for those living on the lines of the Phase 1, while noting that each of the stations already in operation has made room for clusters of economic activities such as retail trade, estate development and other forms of investments.  

His words, “A new crop of young Nigerians are being trained to manage the railway value chain. Some local indigenes from around the railway corridor have been sent to China to learn railways technology, management. To the Federal Capital Territory, the huge multiplier values derivable from the utility will be of immense benefits both for now and for the future. It is of interest to note that there are Nigerians, even women, now driving the locomotives”.

Earlier in his remark, Senator Shehu Sani, said the Committee was in FCTA to receive a comprehensive report on the utilization of funds received as loans by the FCTA under the Federal Government lending plans as approved by the National Assembly.

He however expressed worries that the Committee has come under fire on the issue of incessant approvals of loans, so much so, that it was now a struggle to convince legislators to append their signatures to proposals on borrowing plans, noting that, “As we keep borrowing to invest, we should be wise enough to explain how it would be paid from the channel in which it was invested. The Committee is interested in its viability, not necessarily the aesthetic value”.

The Vice Chairman of the Committee, Senator Philip Gyunka, in his keynote address, underscored the strategic importance of the FCT in the country, particularly with regards to implementation of projects designed to improve the lives of people. He said the Senators were in the FCTA for a first-hand assessment of programmes and projects proposed by the Administration with regard to loan applications approved by the National Assembly.

He recalled that under the 2012 and 2014 external borrowing plan of the Federal Government, two major projects; the Abuja Light rail project, with a credit amount of $500 million obtained from EXIM Bank of China and a facility for the Development of Infrastructure of the satellite towns, with a credit amount of $300 million from the African Development Bank, were approved. 

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