The Federal Government of Nigeria is currently shopping around for a princely sum of $8.7bn (about N1.37tn) required for the construction of a new rail line linking Lagos to Kano.
The double lane standard gauge line will run at parallel line with the existing single lane which was constructed about 113 years ago.
The administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo had in 2007 approved a sum of $8.3bn for the same project but it was suspended in 2008 by his successor, late Umaru Y’Ardua following allegations that the amount was inflated and that the Chinese contractor was not duly registered to do business in Nigeria.
Checks at the Federal Ministry of Transport and the Nigerian Railway Corporation revealed that government had agreed to the construction estimate of N1.22 billion per kilometre of standard gauge railway line.
It was also learnt that government was considering two options to execute the 1,128km railway project: either to raise the fund internally and execute the project instalmentally or source contractor-finance foreign loan.
The second option is already being explored by the Transport Minister who is holding discussions with the Chinese government for a loan facility as a condition for bringing back the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) who was executing the project before the contract was terminated.
In a swift reaction, the Nigerian Union of Railway Workers has expressed its reservations about bring back the Chinene firm, saying they were not comfortable with the company. They, however, suggested that a monitoring team which will include their representatives be set up to ensure value for money and time completion of the project.