The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, says the ongoing probe by the National Assembly into loan agreements being entered into by the Federal Government with China may frustrate various rail projects in the country.
The House of Representatives had on Tuesday expressed its resolve to review loan facilities already taken by the country from China and other countries.
Amaechi had appeared before the House Committee on Treaties, Protocols and Agreements on the $500m loan taken on the Abuja-Kaduna and other rail line projects.
The minister, who warned the lawmakers against sending a wrong signal to China, on Tuesday, explained in Abuja on Wednesday that negotiations on the facilities be concluded while the lawmakers investigate the agreements.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the minister said, “The investigation being carried out by the National Assembly may frustrate the loan agreement between us and China on the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail project.
“So, if tomorrow we are unable to construct Port Harcourt to Maiduguri railway because we didn’t get the loan, it is because of the investigation by NASS.
“I told the National Assembly that they can investigate but they should allow us get the loan first. If they stop the work from Ibadan to Kano, it is because of the investigations, same with Lagos to Calabar railway.
“If you think there is corruption, investigate corruption. What we are saying is that we should conclude negotiation first because there is pressure affecting the Chinese government in which they are talking to us directly. So, for me, what is primary here should be national interest.
“We have the approval to construct the Lagos-Ibadan, Lagos-Kano and Lagos-Calabar rail lines; we are also at the point of negotiating for the loans.
“Summoning us to the National Assembly to come and address the loans would look like the government is no longer interested in the loan.”
On plans to repay the loans, the minister said that profit generated from the train service would be used through a special account to be opened for that purpose.
Meanwhile, the House committee asked Ameachi to reappear on August 17 along with more details on the loans and projects.