The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, said this when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Land Transport to defend the 2018 budget proposal of his ministry.
The Chairman of the committee, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, urged the ministry to ensure the delivery of standard gauge rail lines and other vital rail infrastructure to Nigerians before 2019.
Amaechi said only 10.79 per cent of the N192.2bn capital component of the ministry’s budget had been expended.
He said, “The total capital appropriation for the ministry for 2017 is N192,895,507,321, out of which N31,932,659,318.65 (16.55 per cent) was released to the ministry. The sum of N20,826,771,137.45 has so far been expended as of November this year.
“In addition, the sum of N528.8m was appropriated for overhead expenditure, out of which N230.5m (43.6 per cent) was released, while N180,514,659.21 (34.1 per cent) has so far been expended.”
Speaking on the 2018 budget, Amaechi said the Federal government had proposed the completion of the ongoing Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri-Aladja railway project, which commenced 32 years ago.
The minister also said the government’s counterpart funding required for the new Ibadan-Kano rail and the Nigerian coastal line Lagos-Calabar project had been included in the 2018 budget proposal.
“We sought and got Mr. President’s approval to source for financiers for various rail projects for development. Negotiations are ongoing and we may need some contributions, depending on the discussions,” he said.
Amaechi further said the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology, Zaria, was focusing on the improvement of its basic infrastructure, increasing its research base and expansion of its training drive.
He added, “To this end, the institute is planning to acquire state-of-the-art equipment and establish outreach learning centres in four geopolitical zones of the country. It is expected that the institute will eventually be upgraded to a transport technology university that will serve not only Nigeria, but the rest of West Africa.”
A statement on Monday also quoted Ashafa, representing the Lagos East district, as saying during the budget defence session of the Ministry of Transportation, “We must be conscious of the fact that the 2018 appropriation cycle is the most important in the life of this administration. It is on its back that we expect most of the projects that have commenced since 2015 to be delivered to Nigerians.”
The senator also called for a synergy between the committee and the ministry to ensure a speedy passage of the 2018 budget.
He said, “This meeting makes it the second that our committee would have with the minister and his team in respect of budget defence in 2017. This is due to no other reason but our commitment towards ensuring an early passage of the 2018 Appropriation Bill into law. I will implore all parties to avoid any actions that will delay the appropriation process.”