Senate has summoned the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, to appear before its joint committee on Land Transport, and Local and Foreign Debts.
When he appears before the panel, the minister is expected to explain to lawmakers why the Federal Government excluded the Eastern rail line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri; in the ongoing nationwide rail construction/modernisation.
Senate’s decision was based on the adoption of a motion by the Deputy Senate President of the, Ike Ekweremadu, who decried the exclusion of the eastern flank. In 2017, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe raised a similar motion on the floor of the Senate and accused the Executive arm of deliberately marginalising the eastern part of the country.
Consequently, Amaechi was summoned to appear before a Senate committee on Local and Foreign Debts. During his appearance, Amaechi claimed that there was no plan to exclude the region. Instead, he told the committee that the area will be included in the federal government’s 2018 borrowing plans.
Ekweremadu was not impressed. Yesterday, he said the exclusion is a dangerous signal and urged senate to intervene.
Ekweremadu said: “I want to bring to the notice of the Senate, the deliberate exclusion of the Eastern rail line in the ongoing construction/modernisation nationwide. This is not good for our country. It shows that a some parts of the country are deliberately ignored.
“It is also unfair to exclude the eastern part of the country. Our people will suffer as a result of this.”
Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, while supporting the motion, said General Electric, which ought to have handled the project, has not abandoned it. He called for justice and fairness in the ongoing nationwide projects.
“I am supporting this motion. But let me clarify that the axis given to General Electric has not been abandoned. General Electric will have its subsidiary handling that axis. My concern is that, General Electric is designed to renovate the narrow gauge and not to modernise. Let there be justice and fairness in this issue.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has given an express order that every state capital in Nigeria must have a rail line. Let senate work with the other side to ensure that the Eastern Line gets this project done,” he said.
Delta South senator, James Manager, wondered why Amaechi chose to exclude his place because of political differences.
“When you talk about business in Nigeria, the East is key. The government has decided to exclude that part. This is one issue every Nigerian is interested in. I am from Delta tate and I am sure that my state, too, would be excluded.
“Ironically, the minister of is from Port Harcourt. Local politics aside, he will return home after leaving office. We need to invite the minister to explain to the relevant committees why he decided to exclude some parts,” said Manager.
Senate President, Bukola Saraki, agreed that equity must be considered in the distribution of railway projects.
“There must be equity in the distribution of railway projects in every part of the country,” said Saraki.