Posted by Mayowa Okekale, Abuja | 12 April 2016 | 3,058 times
Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, representing Lagos East Senatorial Constituency, yesterday weighed in on the controversies which have surrounded the Ministry of Transport’s Budget. He said emphatically that the Lagos-Calabar rail line was not included in the original document of 2016 Budget presented to National Assembly by the Executive.
In a press statement issued to journalists in Abuja, Ashafa explained that after carefully following the information doing the rounds, he could authoritatively confirm that the Lagos-Calabar rail line was not captured in the original document as claimed by the Executive.
“I confirm that the Lagos to Calabar rail line was not in the original document that was presented to the National Assembly by the Executive,” he said.
Ashafa recalled that though, during the budget defense session before the Senate Committee on Land Transport, the Minister for Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, informed the committee about the omission of the Lagos to Calabar rail modernisation project and, indeed, sent a supplementary copy of the ministry's budget to the committee which contained the said project.
He further explained that the committee did not completely agree with all the changes made in the subsequent document, being fully aware of the critical importance of the rail sector to the development of the country, but members of the Committee, at the same time, keyed into the laudable (Lagos to Calabar, rail modernisation) project, and found ways of appropriating funds for the project without exceeding the envelope provided for the ministry.
Ashafa added: “The sum of 54 billion Naira that was discovered by the Senate Committee on Land Transport to be floating in the budget of the Ministry of Transportation, as presented by the Executive, was injected into augmenting the funds needed for counterpart funding of both projects (Lagos to Kano and Lagos to Calabar Rail modernisation).
“As at the time the committee defended its report before the senate committee on Appropriation. The Lagos to Calabar rail modernisation project was therefore included in the Senate Committee on Land Transports recommendation to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.”
“In so doing, the committee observed that the Lagos to Kano rail rehabilitation project had been allocated the sum of N52 Billion Naira as against the sum of 60 billion which the Minister requested as counterpart funding while no allocation whatsoever was made for the Lagos to Calabar rail line.”
Ashafa however expressed surprise, having read on the pages of the newspapers that the amount allocated to the said project was reduced by 8 Billion Naira.
•Photo shows Senator Gbenga Ashafa.
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