By Henry Uche
The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, has asked Nigerians to stop lamenting about Nigeria’s rising debt stock, saying that Nigeria under his ministry is planning to borrow more money to fund some rail projects accross the country.
The minister made this known over the weekend on NTA Weekend Deal, noting that Nigeria has more reasons to borrow funds now since the country is financially weak. Acccording to him, there was a time Nigeria had excess cash reserve but poor financial management led to its misuse.
Amaechi stated that the “Giant of Africa”, as Nigeria is being referred to, does not translate or mean that the country is rich financially, stressing that Nigeria is being referred to as a giant because of its population which is only good for marketing. He said, “We are currently applying for a loan facility of $11.1billion and $302 billion to fund Lagos to Calabar and Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri rail projects respectively,”
He added that the construction of new ports in Lokoja and Baro Ports, among others, are in the pipeline while Onitsha and Oguta ports are having setback due to some hitches. He affirmed that the complex challenges in Nigeria waterways are not solely the failure of his ministry but the inefficiency of other actors like the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), ministries of finance and Internal Affairs.
On unending Apapa gridlock, he said a committee, headed by the permanent secretary- ministry of Transport, has been set up to address the issues. He, however, added that when the railway is commissioned, cargoes would be asked to use the tracks. “We are working harder to make other sea ports in the country functional to ease and decongest the Lagos Ports, we have Security challenges in Warri Port, Port Harcourt ports and Calabar. We are trying to get solutions but we are worried because we are not having the cooperation of the Navy. Navy is part of the problem we are having. So we need to engage the Nigerian Navy the more to find solution to the insecurity in the Ports.