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FEC Approves $11bn For Construction of Lagos-Calabar Coastal Rail

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved $11.174 billion for the construction of a standard-gauge coastal railway from Lagos to Calabar, which is expected to link all Nigeria’s coastal cities by rail in six years.

Speaking to newsmen at the end of the weekly FEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House, Abuja, Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed, said the meeting approved the memo for the ratification of the president’s approval for the award of the contract for the Lagos-Calabar coastal standard-gauge railway.

The information minister said, “This is a very old project, which we inherited. Under the former administration, an approval was given, but nothing was done, but today, the council has given approval to commence the Lagos-Calabar coastal route.”

According to him, the rail project is important to the nation’s coastal economy, which is why $11.174 billion is earmarked for it with a completion period of six years.

His words: “This particular route is very important because after the Lagos-Kano route, this Lagos-Calabar coastal route, actually will link all the coastal cities in the country.

“The proposed route alignment is to go from Lagos to Shagamu, Shagamu to Ijebu-Ode, Ijebu-Ode to Ore, Ore to Benin City, Benin to Sapele, Sapele to Warri, Warri to Yenagoa, Yenagoa to Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt to Aba, Aba to Uyo, Uyo to Calabar, Calabar to Akamkpa to Ikom, to Obudu Ranch, with a branch line from Benin City to Asaba, Onitsha Bridge and then Port Harcourt to Onne Deep Seaport.”

The minister also stressed that the commitment of the present administration to expanding and consolidating on the rail projects across the country informed FEC’s approval of the funds for work to commence immediately on the Kano-Jibia rail and the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri route.

In the same vein, the council approved the acquisition of 20 per cent minority stake by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Dangote Petroleum and petrochemical refinery in the sum of $2.76 billion. This was as hope for the restoration of the country’s four refineries in less than eight years from now was raised yesterday.

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, disclosed these at the end of the monthly FEC meeting in Abuja. Sylva also announced the federal government’s approval of $1.484 billion for the rehabilitation of both Warri and Kaduna refineries.

Why FG approved $1.5bn for Port Harcourt Refinery rehabilitation

Facts have emerged why the Federal Government approved $1.5 Billion for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refinery in Rivers State.

The 38th virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the sum for the rehabilitation of the Refinery said to be the largest refining company in the country.

According to the SUN, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Sylva, said the rehabilitation will be done in three phases of 18, 24 and 44 months.

He said the contract was awarded to an Italian company, Tecnimont spa, who are experts in refinery maintenance.

He said the funding has three components from Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), budgetary allocations provisions and Afreximbank.

Sylva who addressed State House Correspondents alongside his colleagues, Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire and Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, assured that local content is fully involved in the job.

He said: “The Ministry of Petroleum Resources presented a memo on the rehabilitation of Port Harcourt refinery for the sum of 1.5 billion, and it was approved by council today.

“So we are happy to announce that the rehabilitation of productivity refinery will commence in three phases. The first phase is to be completed in 18 months, which will take the refinery to a production of 90 percent of its nameplate capacity.

“The second phase is to be completed in 24 months and the final stage will be completed in 44 months and contract was approved. And I believe that this is good news for Nigeria.”

Speaking more on the contractor, the minister said: “The contractor that was approved by Council today is Messrs. Tecnimont spa, of Italy, it’s an Italian EPC company that won the bid and that was approved by Council.”

On the question about operations and maintenance, Sylva said: “That has been a big problem for our refineries, as we all know, that was also exhaustively discussed in Council and the agreement is that we are going to put a professional Operations and Maintenance company to manage the refinery when it has been rehabilitated.

“In any case, it is actually one of the conditions presented by the lenders, because the lenders say they can only give us the money if we have a professional operations and maintenance company, and that already is embedded in our discussions with the lenders and we cannot go back on that.”

On whether the funds for the rehabilitation of the refinery was available, the minister said: “I want to answer that the funds are all in place and work will commence forthwith.”

On when the other refineries in the country will be rehabilitated, he said: “Discussions are ongoing. We want to take one at a time and I want to assure you that before the lifetime of this administration expires, work on all the refineries would have at least commenced.”

On why the government did not go back to  the original builders of the refinery, Sylva said: “The first action was to go to the original refinery builders, but you all know, like I do, that if you have a Toyota car, and your Toyota car develops problem, you don’t have to go to the builders of the Toyota to fix it. Usually there are people in the business of building Toyota cars, there are also people in the business of maintaining Toyota cars.

“So, we found out from the original refinery builders that they are not in the business of rehabilitating refineries, they are in the business of building refineries. So they actually pointed us to a rehabilitation company that we’re dealing with now.”

Asked who the lenders of the funds were, the minister said: “There are various components to the funding: there is funding from NNPC internally generated revenue, there is funding from the budget and there is also a debt funding. For the lenders, we are dealing with AFREXIM bank and they are very committed to us, we have actually concluded discussions with AFREXIM.”

On the issue of local participation in the rehabilitation of the refinery, Sylva said: “As you know, there is a local content law. The Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) is fully part of the contracting process and has safeguarded the interest, adequately of our local contractors, so our local people will be fully involved with the Tecnimont spa.”

On if the rehabilitation of the refinery was as a result of Labour unions demand that deregulation of petroleum price should come after refineries rehabilitation, he said: “First, I am not aware of any such agreement that deregulation should only take place after the refineries have been fixed, that was at no time part of our agreement. But of course, this government, from the very beginning, has been in the process of fixing and rehabilitating this refinery, so, it is not because of our discussion with Labour, but it is actually the desire of the administration to ensure that our refineries work and that is the process that has bore fruit today.”

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Ogoniland: We’ve Cleaned up 15 Sites, says Minister

*FEC approves award of contracts for Rehab/Construction of 6 Water Supply Schemes in Ogoniland

The federal government yesterday put the total number of oil-polluted sites that have been cleaned up in Ogoniland in Rivers State at 15.

According to Thisday, the Minister of the Environment, Mr. Muhammad Mahmoud, while answering reporters’ questions at the end of the weekly virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at the State House, in Abuja, also stated that the council approved N6.04 billion for the provision of potable water in the four local government areas of Ogoniland namely Gokana, Khana, Eleme and Tai in Rivers State.

The award of contracts for Rehabilitation/Construction of 6 Water Supply Schemes with a capacity of supplying 2400 m3 of potable water per day to Ogoni communities by the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project (HYPREP) is regarded as a major milestone in the Cleanup exercise.

He said the cleaning up of the oil pollution sites in Ogoniland was delayed by a year which informed why only 15 sites had been certified clean so far.

He said he met with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) over the matter before approaching President Muhammadu Buhari who approved the adjustment of the contract for the cleanup to commence.

He said: “We had some delays. And this was evident when we came to assess the project and we went all the way to Geneva and met United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) that designed the project, conducted the studies and make recommendations.

“When we came back, I went and explained to Mr. President that according to their record, we were behind by just one year. And we sought approval to make some changes, and he graciously approved. And we have made those changes. And between then and now, 15 sites have been cleaned up and certified clean.

So there was a delay of one year Yes, but then we have progressed. Now I can say that within the last year, we have done up to 15. So there’s a tremendous amount of progress.

“And we are trying to push to catch up with the time, still maybe behind by months. But this is a project that you want to take time to do and do it well. we are talking about the livelihood of people contaminated soil by hydrocarbons, these are cancer-causing chemicals, or we call them carcinogens.”

Mahmood stated that the local communities in Ogoniland did not help matters as they prevented government officials and contractors from accessing their areas for clean-up to progress.

He, however, added that 36 additional contracts had been awarded for the total clean-up of Ogoniland.

“So, you have these hiccups from the beginning and maybe from the beginning and also you have issues also in the area, you know because there are some issues with the land, maybe communities that are in dispute or not letting us access as they should and all that stuff. These are really some of the reasons but I wish to tell you that we have awarded additional contracts about 36

“It took us about five to six months to even access some of the sites that have already been contracted out because some communities are in dispute and will not let us go into the land even commence the cleanup until just recently, not more than three months ago, that we’re able to get them to understand we’re not there for land dispute, but for cleanup, and once you get the cleanup is done, whoever gets the land, gets a clean land,” he stated

The minister also said the FEC meeting approved N6.04 billion for the supply of water to the four local government councils that make up Ogoniland.

This, he said, was a follow-up to the cleanup of the oil polluted areas of Ogoniland.

“If you recall, the Hydrocarbon Pollution Remediation Project, otherwise known as HYPREP, was commissioned in 2016 to clean Ogoniland, impacted areas of Ogoniland, based on a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

“The mandate of the project is not just cleaning up the contaminated areas by oil pollution, but also to provide drinking water and to also provide alternative livelihood for the people of that area.

“The water projects are at different prices and also different completion periods, I think ranging from six months all the way to nine months, depending on the atmosphere. It’s rehabilitation and construction and some of these will link with the River State Government’s water system,” the minister said.