President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly, seeking the approval to borrow $5.851bn for the upgrade of various sections of the Nigerian railway.
This was contained in a letter to the president of Senate and speaker of the House of Representatives, Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara respectively.
Mr Buhari intention to borrow $29.9 billion last year has sparked a debate as to the propriety or otherwise of making such foreign borrowing.
Reading the letter during plenary on Wednesday, Mr Dogara quoted the President as saying the timely approval will enable the country access the China-African fund provided for in the 2016-2018 external borrowing plan.
According to Mr Buhari, the project form part of the overall plan to resuscitate the rail transport across the country and drive economic growth.
The letter reads: “I wish to refer to my earlier letter with respect to the above subject and to inform the distinguished senate that the China Exim bank has approved our request for a loan to execute the Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Lagos-Ibadan segment for a sum of $1.231 billion.
“The China government has also informed us that the approval of the Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Kano-Kaduna segment and coastal railway project, the Lagos-Calabar segment are imminent.
“China Exim supported projects; Lagos-Kano modernisation projects, Lagos-Ibadan segment $1.231 billion; Lagos-Kano railway modernisation project, Kano-Kaduna segment $1.146 billion and coastal railway project, the Lagos-Calabar segment 3.474 billion, making a total of 5.851 billion.
“As you are aware the funds available under the China-African fund are limited and loan applications from all over Africa countries are funded based on first come, first serve and therefore there is an urgent need to sign these loans as soon as they are approved or we may loose out in the event that we delayed in signing the loan agreement.
“These loans form part of the overall money for the rail strategy. We are in the process of completing the concession of the port Harcourt Maiduguri line to immediately link the eastern part of the nation.
“We fully intend to source further concessioning funding to ultimately upgrade this critical line to high speed standard gauge. These projects form the overall plan to resuscitate the rail transport across the nation and thereby drive inclusive growth.”