Each time China, the main financier of Nigeria’s rail line projects, advances loans to Nigeria for building rail lines, it pads the pocket of some powerful Nigerians directly or indirectly linked to the projects.
Here’s how: It has been revealed that the monetary value of the projects had been grossly inflated by a cartel headed by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, with membership spread across the All Progressives Congress, APC, leadership and the Presidency.
Nigeria has about three railway projects that she’s yet to start construction work on. They include the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line, Kano-Maradi (Niger Republic) and then the Abuja-Warri rail line. But the projects are being delayed because China has not been forthcoming with more loans.
A highly placed source in the Ministry of Transportation said the Chinese have shown displeasure at the huge inflation of the contracts by billions of naira.
According to the source, when compared with how much the Chinese firms charge for the same projects in other African nations, it became obvious that some Nigerians have cashed in on the rail line project to steal public money in billions of naira.
It could be recalled that on February 3, 2022, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved contracts worth $183.7 million for consultancy services for the supervision of the various railway projects in the country. This followed a memo presented to the FEC by Amaechi.
While announcing the approval to the media, Amaechi said: “Ministry of Transportation presented two memos and the first one has to do with the contract for consultancy services for the supervision of the various railway projects. Remember that we have about three railway projects that are yet to start construction and they include the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri, Kano-Maradi and then the Abuja-Warri.
“For the consultancy services, the following contractors were approved, with the total cost of $183.7 million: GIX Engineers Infrastructure Excellence/Yaroso & Partnership Ltd, Core Consulting Engineering Plc. That’s for Abuja to Warri.
“For the consultancy services for supervision of Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway, with branch lines to Bonny Deep Seaport and Port Harcourt Industrial Park, and, then, to Owerri, we have Kyari Consults SDMBHD/Jamood Global Services Limited at $97.5 million. The first one is $38.4 million.
“The last one is consultancy services for the supervision of Kano-Katsina-Jibia-Maradi Rail-line to TEAM (Technics Engineering Architecture Marketing Nigeria Limited) and that is for $47,670,000 million. All of them are for a period of 36 months.”
The minister confirmed that the federal government was abandoning the agreements signed with China on construction of railway in the country: “Actually, that is why there is a delay. We were waiting on the Chinese to give us the loans we applied for and till today they’ve not replied. They kept delaying us – will the delay extend our tenure? The answer is no.”
However, it was understood that the Chinese stalled in advancing further loans because even the previous ones were over-inflated.
“The Chinese could not understand why similar projects, even the ones more sophisticated than the Nigerian rail lines costs so much in Nigeria but far less in other countries,” our source said.
“How can you imagine a consultant being paid $47 and $97 million, then, $367 million, for 5 consultancy projects that are worth like $3-5 million. What should be $15m-$25m is getting $367 million.
This is the same thing they do for projects worth like $20 billion……but China EXIM refused to proceed funding such nonsense. For example, a project worth $1 billion, they turn it to $5 billion and steal $4 billion. This is the kind of looting going on, a source who does not want to be named, told pointblanknews.com
However, experts and Ministry of Transportation sources who spoke to our reporter said all the consultancy contracts would normally cost between $3m-$5m, meaning all the three projects would cost at the maximum $15 million but this is what FEC approved a huge sum of $183.7m for, split into $97m, $38.4m and $47m.
One of our sources described it as “disgusting”, wondering why “some Nigerians steal without any sense of shame.”
In 2019, it became a matter of public discourse after the media blew the lid of contract scandals surrounding the Nigeria rail projects.
It was revealed that Ghanaian-European Railway Consortium (GERC) had agreed to construct a 340-kilometre standard gauge railway line in Ghana for $2.2 billion. But in Nigeria, the cost of the 156-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan railway line, handled by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) was put at $2 billion.
A breakdown of this shows that while a kilometre of rail line costs $6.5 million in Ghana, the same length costs $13.6 million in Nigeria.
Many Nigerians have described this as outrageous scandal but the Muhammadu Buhari-government gave zero attention to the public outcry.
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