From Uche Usim, Lokoja
The Board of Bank of China has approved the Nigerian government’s $2.5 billion loan request to successfully undertake the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipeline project.
Under the deal, the Bank of China is to provide 85% of the fund totalling $2.125 billion, while the Federal Government provides the 15% balance of $375 million in addition to sovereign guarantee to the lender.
The Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed made the disclosure in Ajaokuta, Kogi State on Tuesday, while inspecting the level of work done on the project site.
According to her, the loan approval remains a major breakthrough in the delivery of gas to Nigerians, amid other economic benefits.
Ahmed, who was accompanied on the inspection by the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari; the contractor, Mr Emeka Okwuosa, Chairman of Oilserv Limited and the Director-General of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms Patience Oniha, stated that the pace of work undertaken by Oilserv, the contractor handling the gas pipeline project indicates the 2023 completion deadline would not be exceeded.
She said: “Gas has lots of economic benefits and we are here to see the work being done and we’re confident it will be delivered on schedule.
“It has a lot multiplier effects. It will create and already creating jobs. Look at the people working here. Many people in the host communities have been employed.
“Now that the loan has been approved, we will give some form of sovereign guarantee to the lender”.
Also speaking at the event, the Executive Chairman, Oilserv Limited, Mr Emeka Okwuosa said the project was already 10% gone, adding that the local content rule was strictly adhered to as the bulk of the fabrication and engineering were sourced locally.
He added that the Ajaokuta segment of the contract, which his company is handling has achieved almost 15km of pipeline welding and laying.
“The company has developed and showed capacity for 25 years and the NNPC has always supported us.
“This project will be delivered on schedule. We deploy local hands and resources. We employ people in host communities and use local contractors”, he noted.
Earlier in his remarks, the NNPC GMD, Mr Mele Kyari said that all the necessary parts needed for the project were always delivered as requested.
“I’m glad to state here that this project has ot suffered delay for one day. Everything is going as planned. Parts for this project are arriving on time. We’re moving them by road. We fear no delays and we will deliver on schedule”, he said.