Abuja — Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday said that the Federal Government had approved $16 billion for the eastern railway project but that there was no cash yet to begin work on the project.
Amaechi, who spoke with State House Correspondents after briefing President Muhammadu Buhari on the progress in the transportation sector, also disclosed that the Federal Government is set to receive 17 more locomotives with 10 designated for Kaduna/Abuja axis and seven for the Itakpe-Warri axis.
The minister, who said he was summoned to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, to brief President Buhari on the level of work done to actualise the government's vision, stated: "There are approvals but we have to look for the money, the money is just not there. It is not easy, it is a total of about $16 billion and you don't pluck $16 billion from the sky."
On whether the eastern railway modernisation project will be executed through Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement, Amaechi said that it was the thinking of government but private investors most times do not want to invest in railway projects.
"That (PPP) is the first line of action, we will try and see if we can work on PPP, particularly as it patterns to the seaport."For the Port Harcourt Railway Industrial Park, we should also be able to implement that through PPP. I hope we can but l doubt if it will be easy to get railway through PPP because it is quite expensive," he said.
The minister said that the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) has commenced the process for the dredging of the Calabar Port, adding that there was also an arrangement to carry out the dredging through PPP.He said the expenditure for the ports was about $16 billion, which according to him, could not all come through a loan as the first step of action was through PPP.