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9 Nov 2016

Senate begins probe of Amaechi over $2bn rail lines concession

The Senate has began the probe of the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi over the concession of western (Lagos-Kano) and Eastern (Port Harcourt – Maiduguri) rail lines to General Electric company, based in the United States (US).

This follows the adoption of a motion sponsored by Senator Albert Akpan (PDP, Akwa-Ibom Northeast) on the concession of rail lines with a potential of $2billion.

Akpan told the Senate that the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), and the Nigeria Infrastructure Advisory Facility (NAIF) upon the approval of the National Council on Privatization (NPC) in April 2015, developed a roadmap for the concessioning of the rail lines.

He said the BPE had already engaged the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF) and the World Bank in discussions on accessing funding for transactions Advisers, while the Ministry of Transport had formally appointed Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) and Greenwich as financial Advisers for the same purpose.

He said in August, this year, the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo inaugurated the steering and Technical committee in line with the provision of section 11(k) of the Public Enterprises (Privatisation and Commercialisation) Act 1999 to fast track the process of the concession of the rail lines.

“It is the responsibility of the steering and technical committees of the NPC inaugurated by the Vice president in August 2016 to negotiate with potential bidders for this concession, how then did the Ministry of Transport engage General Electric Company as far back as June, 2016,” he said.

He said the Ministry of Transport had violated the provisions of the Public Enterprises (Privatization and Commercialization) Act, 1999 by unilaterally engaging the General Electric (GE) for the concession.

The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, mandated the Senate Committees on Privatization, Land Transport, Finance, Special Duties, Trade and Investment, Judiciary and Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes to investigate the procedure adopted in the engagement of General Electric for the concession.

Meanwhile, the Senate has asked the Federal government to‎ declare a state of emergency on unemployment.

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