The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has revealed that he needs $36bn to connect the entire nation by rail.

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Amaechi said this on NTA’s ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ programme. According to him, railway is capital intensive and this has made it difficult for private firms to invest in the sector.

He said the reason the Nigerian government had been borrowing funds from overseas was that only the government was able to come up with the needed collateral to take such loans.

When asked why the Kaduna-Abuja railway had not been linked to Lokoja, Amaechi responded, “If we had money, I would want to be the minister that initiated and completed the linking of Nigeria. All I need is $36bn. With $36bn, all of them (will be linked).

“The project from Itakpe to Abuja is $3.09bn. If we have that, we will start it tomorrow morning.”

The former governor of Rivers State said President Muhammadu Buhari had done exceedingly well in the area of infrastructure but said he feared that the gains of the Buhari regime would be reversed if the Peoples Democratic Party takes over in 2023.

Amaechi described Buhari as a unique President for the fact that he did not cancel former President Goodluck Jonathan’s projects but decided to continue them for the benefit of Nigerians.

As of March 31, 2020, Nigeria had borrowed $3.12bn from China. The concessional loans are tied to several rail projects.

The projects include the Nigerian Railway Modernisation Project (Idu-Kaduna section); Abuja Light Rail Project; Four Airport Terminals Expansion Project (Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt); Nigerian Railway Modernisation Project (Lagos-Ibadan section) and Rehabilitation and Upgrading of Abuja-Keffi-Makurdi Road Project.