Senate summons Amaechi over Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line

Rivers Governor, Chibuike Amaechi

The Senate on Wednesday resolved to summon the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, to explain the federal government’s plans for railway development in the country’s eastern axis.

Amaechi is to appear before the Senate Committees on Land Transport, Local and Foreign Debts.

No date was announced for the minister’s appearance in the resolution, which originated from a motion by the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, at plenary.

In the motion, Ekweremadu alleged that the federal government was paying less attention to the eastern rail corridor from Port-Harcourt in the South-South to Maiduguri in the North-East.

He said when the Senate approved government’s request to raise loan from China to develop the western axis, there was an understanding that approval be secured for government to secure loan to deal with the eastern axis.

He said, “Now the story has changed. What the Chinese are being asked to do is to take over the eastern axis under a Public-Private Partnership, use their own money to fix it and recover their money over time.

“I believe this is not fair to those of us in the eastern part of Nigeria. For a country to survive, there must be equity, fairness and justice, and any country that is running against these principles will be heading to disaster.”

Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani who chaired the Committee on Local and Foreign Debts supported the motion, which he described as apt and right.

Sani said the transport minister once gave a “firm pledge” before his committee that the Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line would be the next priority after the completion of the Lagos-Kano corridor.

The Majority Leader, Ahmed Lawan, also supported the motion but was quick to note that the eastern rail corridor had not been abandoned as felt by previous speakers.

Lawan said the minister had explained to him on enquiry that GE only handed the eastern axis to a subsidiary.