TRANSPORT minister Rotimi Amaechi has sought to allay fears that the current infrastructure upgrade taking place across the country will bankrupt Nigeria pointing out that $150bn of the $2bn rail loan taken from China has been repaid.
Nigeria’s current government inherited a railway development plan aimed at upgrading the existing 3,505km single gauge network into standard gauge. Nigeria had borrowed a total of $3.12bn from China as of March 31 2020 to fund the railway network, representing just under 4% of the country’s total public debt.
There had been fears that the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan could bankrupt the country, as the treasury would struggle to rep-ay the loans. This could result in the Chinese lenders going to court and seizing Nigeria’s assets as has already happened in several African countries who defaulted on their payments.
Dispelling such fears, Mr Amaechi said that the Buhari administration only borrowed money for the Kaduna-Abuja and the Lagos-Ibadan railway lines. He added: “The right ministry to respond to that question is the ministry of finance as they borrow and they repay but I think the last I heard about it, it was between a $100m to $150m repayment that we have done so far on Kaduna-Abuja.
“Don’t forget that we’ve not borrowed any money yet, the only money we borrowed is in Kaduna-Abuja and Lagos-Ibadan. As per Lagos-Ibadan, what we borrowed is about $1.5bn although it is not matured for repayment, as what has matured for repayment is the Kaduna-Abuja which is being repaid.
“Nigerians think we borrow so much but the only projects we have borrowed so far is the Kaduna-Abuja where we borrowed $500m and Lagos-Ibadan where we borrowed $1.5bn. So, that brings the total loan exposure for us in the ministry of transport to about $2bn as far as the railway is concerned.”