$46bn loan request: American firm to invest $10bn in rail
As the Federal Government scouts around the world for $46 billion loan to fix the rail infrastructure in the country, a United States-based Ameri Metro, has opted to invest over $10 billion in the coastal rail project from Lagos to Calabar and Calabar to Port Harcourt.
The founder of the American firm, Shah Mathias, told newsmen that the project will be fully funded by the company if approved by the Federal Government
Mathias said that the company has done various rail projects in the United States, and has the resources and capacity to handle similar projects in Nigeria.
“We are here to do a presentation on the high speed rail and other sustainable projects; our goal is to build a more modern rail, which we can start as soon as possible. “We are ready to invest 100 per cent; we have been told that the project is over $10 billion; we are going to build new rail track, bring in locomotives.
“We are looking at the Lagos-Calabar coastal line and Port Harcourt; we are ready to take it over from the Chinese company since they (government) have not been able to raise the money.”he said. Mathias said that the company was focused on the development of high-speed rail for passengers and freight transportation.
Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Ameachi said recently that he has received approvals from the president to borrow from other countries and international organisations to develop the rail and road infrastructure.
According to him, the government was already negotiating with Russian Exim Bank for a loan of over $46 billion.
The Minister said that the Federal Government does not have the money to develop rail and road infrastructure but would go and source the money. He said that the construction of the rail lines will reduce the pressure on the roads. On the inland rail, he said that the Federal Government was discussing with India for the construction of Lagos-Calabar, Port Harcourt to Maiduguri projects, which, he said, have been approved by the president.
“I had to go to India because of coast line. That is Lagos-Calabar. We have got presidential approvals to look for money for Port Harcourt to Maiduguri project.
“I was in India to look for money and there are people talking to me—Russian Exim Bank. For now, the Chinese are funding Lagos to Kano. Any of them that gives us money for Lagos to Calabar and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri we will take. The president has approved that we should look for that money” he said, adding that the three rail lines we are going to construct now—Lagos to Kano, Lagos to Calabar and Port Harcourt to Maiduguri— is going to cost us not less than $46 billion. We don’t have the money in our pocket. We just have to source for the money” he noted.