(Yicai Global) May 10 -- A unit of China Railway Construction Corp., one of the country's biggest rail construction contractors, has started laying tracks for a CNY9.6 billion (USD1.5 billion) project in Nigeria, funded by affordable Chinese loans, which provide the means to the western African country's impetus to improve its transport links while upping the ante on its economy.
Nigerian Transport Minister Armaieci and Information Minister Lai Mohammed and other government officials inspected Beijing-based China Civil Engineering Construction Corp.'s 'Rye Railway' project, located between Nigeria's most populous port city Lagos and a central industrial city Ibadan, reported People.cn, run by Chinese national newspaper People's Daily.
The 150-kilometer line adopts Chinese railway standards, involving a double-track standard gauge, and a designated maximum speed of 150 kilometers per hour. Nigeria's Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, said the project should be complete by December this year, reported Nigerian newspaper Premium Times.
Nigeria's previous transport modernization projects have been thwarted by inadequate funding. But this time, Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi said the Export-Import Bank of China stepped in to offer loan at an interest rate of 1.5 percent, which is "very cheap" compared to typical commercial loans with interest of around 5 percent, reported BBC. Amaechi hoped the construction will be completed before the African nation's general elections in February next year.
Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said the project will go a long way to open up southwest Nigeria's economy, as well as facilitate regional integration and growth, added Premium Times report.
Editor: Emmi Laine