FG in talks with London bank for funding of two critical rail lines

The Federal Government has approached a London, Standard Chartered Bank Plc, to fund two rail line projects.

If the talks yield fruits, the two projects are expected to cost about $14.4 billion and that the talks, details of which is yet to be made available run against earlier plans to secure them from Chinese banks.

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, stated this on Friday during an interview, where he was quoted as saying that the present administration and Standard Chartered Bank are in talks for the financing of the upgrade of a narrow-gauge track in eastern Nigeria and a new standard-gauge on the coast.

Amaechi said, “We’ve moved away from China in some of our projects. Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed is overseeing the talks with the emerging markets-focused financial institution about arranging the infrastructure loans.’’

Chinese lenders had previously been expected to provide funding for the bulk of the 2 rail projects.

Amaechi had during the flag off of the CCECC’s $3.2 billion reconstruction of the dilapidated eastern line, which links the port city of Port Harcourt in the south with Maiduguri in the north, said that a syndicate of Chinese lenders were prepared to fund the project.

CCECC also signed an $11.2 billion contract with the previous administration in late 2014 to construct the Coastal Line which would connect the southwestern commercial hub of Lagos with the southeastern port town of Calabar.

Buhari said in 2017 that the state-owned Export-Import Bank of China would shortly approve a $3.5 billion loan to help start building the 1,400-kilometer (870-mile) standard-gauge line, which Amaechi said the government plans to construct in segments.

The Federal Government had been embarking on several rail line projects across the country in collaboration with Chinese firms.

Amaechi had said that the government still expects China Eximbank to provide $5.3 billion to allow CCECC to extend the Lagos-Ibadan line to the northern trading centre of Kano.

Standard Chartered has had a presence in Nigeria as it has facilitated investments worth $2.5 billion into the country last year – the most of all banks – out of a total of $9.7 billion, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

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