The Federal Government will secure more loans from China in a bid to extend rail services to more states in the country.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi disclosed this in an nterview on Arise TV’s Morning Show Tuesday, a week after he said the government would get credit from Standard Chartered Bank and not China.
Amaechi however, did not reveal the amount the government is seeking but said the federal government has already commenced negotiations for the loans.
Presently, Nigeria owed China $3.402 billion as of March 31, according to the Debt Management Office. The amount covers 11 loan facilities from the China Exim Bank since 2010.
Only last week, the government disclosed its intention to source funding to develop two key rail lines, and said the funding will come from Standard Chartered Plc and not China.
When the loans are granted, it will increase Nigeria’s public debt stock, which stood at $87.2 billion as of the end of March.
Amaechi said the monthly revenue from the Abuja-Kaduna railway operations increased from N70 million to N350 million as of May.
“When you take the loan, you are expected to pay back and as we are talking today we are paying back,” he said.
“Under the regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan, the loan for Abuja – Kaduna was about $500 million. As of today, we have paid over $150 million on that loan.
“I am not aware that there is any clause in the loan agreement that hands over any of our national assets to China.
“Yes, by default they go to court and it depends on the outcome of the court case, but I am not aware that there is anything in all the clauses signed by this government or the previous government of Goodluck Jonathan that mortgaged any of our national assets.”
The loans obtained between 2010 and 2020 are for these projects : the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Project; 40 Parboiled Rice Processing Plants Project (Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development); Abuja Light Rail Project; Nigerian ICT Infrastructure Backbone Project; and the Nigerian Four Airport Terminal Expansion Project (Abuja, Kano, Lagos & Port Harcourt).