The Federal Government has suspended China Civil Engineering and Construction Company(CCEC) from working on Port Harcourt-Maidugiri Eastern rail line project over slow-paced delivery and lackadaisical attitude to work blamed on insecurity and vandalism not proven.
Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo who disclosed this while on tour of the Eastern ports and rail projects in Port Harcourt, River State, could not conceal his disappointment at the nearly-abandoned status of the rail project.
CCEC,the Chinese contractor handling the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the project had complained of vandalization and attacks on its workers along the rail corridor but did not provide record of incidences.
Speaking during the ministerial inspection tour of the project, last week, in Port Harcourt, Sambo who was obviously very displeased by these alleged acts, condemned them, pointing out that in the history of Nigeria, no administration has invested more in rail infrastructure like the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Earlier, he had asked the Chinese authorities to provide their own share of the agreed counterpart funding of 85 percent in the loan agreement for the rail and other sundry projects in Nigeria as the Federal Government had provided its15 percent, calling on the media and the judiciary to collaborate with the Ministry to ensure that these economic saboteurs are not only exposed but prosecuted and sentenced speedily to serve as deterrent to others.
On the issue that funds meant for the Eastern rail line is diverted to other projects, the Minister said it was fake news as the progress made so far is from the 15 per cent of the counterpart funding by Nigeria while the 85 per cent to be provided by foreign partners is still negotiated.
Another area visited was the Naval Ship Yard, PortHarcourt; where after the tour, a very impressed Sambo promised to support the Navy to build the boats needed for the maritime sector.