BREAKING NEWS: Nigerian Govt responds to backlash over MoU with UK firm for PH-Abuja rail line

Nigerian Govt responds to backlash over MoU with UK firm for PH-Abuja rail line

Govt responds to backlash over MoU with UK firm for PH-Abuja rail line

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The Federal Government has reacted to the controversy surrounding the Memorandum of Understand, MoU, it entered with Messrs MPH Rail Development Limited, a United Kingdom, UK, firm.

The MoU which was signed by the Ministry of Transport on March 13, , was for the building of the –Enugu–Calabar–Abuja Standard Gauge Rail Line.

reports that upon the announcement of the MoU, some Nigerians took to their social media handles, particularly X, to express concerns over the UK firm's capacity to deliver the project, saying the company is new in the rail .

The also pointed out the need to revisit an existing project as noted by a former presidential aide, Tolu Ogunlesi, who stated that there's already a Warri—Itakpe Standard Gauge Rail.

Ogunlesi suggested an extension of the existing route from Warri to Port Harcourt and from Itakpe to Abuja to get Port Harcourt — Abuja Standard Gauge Rail.

Responding to the controversy, of Transportation, Sa'idu Ahmed Alkali, in a statement issued on Sunday by Olujimi Oyetomi, Director, Press and Public Relations of the Ministry, explained that the initiative was still at its preliminary stage.

Parts of the statement read, “For clarity, a Memorandum of Understanding or MoU is a non-binding agreement that states each party's intentions to take actions, conduct a business transaction or form a new relationship.

“It is not a legal binding agreement.

“It provides only a platform for further agreement, discussion, scrutiny and the provisions of required guarantees by the parties to reach agreement if the parties are satisfied.

“The MoU in question arose from an unsolicited proposal presented by the African Business Alliance, BABA, an association based in the United Kingdom with interest in businesses in Africa. It's proposal was initially submitted to the ministry on 27th August 2019.

“As required, the business, Outline Business Case was submitted to the Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory , ICRC, on 8th December 2023. The major attraction of the proposal is BABA/MPH's initiative to achieve 100% private sector funding for the project with no loans or debt to the Nigerian government or any of its agencies as captured in the Article 3.3 of the MoU.

“The regulatory Commission on 27 December 2023 granted approval and issued a conditional OBC Certification. It is pertinent to note at this juncture that COVID-19 was a major contributor to the time lag between the initial proposal and the ICRC OBC Certification”.

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