NDDC clarifies position on Niger Delta rail project

NDDC clarifies position on Niger Delta rail project


The Niger Delta Development Commission has reiterated that the Memorandum of Understanding with a US-based firm, Atlanta Global Resources Inc. to build a railway network that will connect the nine states of the Niger Delta region is to commence the preliminary processes of feasibility and viability of the rail project.

This is coming on the heels of the position of the Chairman of the NDDC’s Governing Board, Lauretta Onochie, that the MoU with the US firm is “shady and illegal.”

She had alleged that the deal was signed “without her knowledge and without the authorisation or consent of the board.”

Onochie, who listed reasons the MoU was declared illegal, said the Act establishing the NDDC (Act No 6, of 2000), states that the chairman of the board is solely vested with the power to sign MoUs with any organisation.

However, the statement signed by the Commission’s Director of Corporate Affairs, Ibitoye Abosede, read, “At the Public-Private Partnerships Summit which we organised in Lagos on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a United States-based firm.

“This foundational process may have been misconstrued by some persons to mean that the NDDC has signed the engineering, procurment and construction contract.

“We have been inundated with enquiries over what is ordinarily one of the preliminary steps necessary for the actualisation of a partnership arrangement with the private sector.

“All we signed at the PPP summit was a basic MoU to commence the preliminary processes of feasibility and viability of the rail project. It did not include any agreement on details.

“It is only after the preliminary studies that the finance appraisals will be done and then the civil engineering procurements and the locomotive hardware will be considered.

“For those who may not know, Atlanta Global Resources Inc deals with financing for Industrial products, infrastructure projects, agriculture equipment, capital equipment financing etc. They came recommended by a reliable US financial institution, especially for the deployment of US-produced locomotives,” the statement added.

The NDDC added that it was aware that a partnership agreement for a massive project such as a railway network involves many international and national financial protocols.

“Obviously, many things will be involved and it comes in the mould of the NLNG Train 7. Again, the ICRC and the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, as well as the Ministry of Transport will be part of the negotiations. In addition, EPC contractors and hundreds of other international consultants will be involved.

“The prospects of realising the rail network are very good and we are confident that we will succeed ultimately. The current Board and management of the NDDC have resolved to do things differently so as to effectively drive sustainable development in the Niger Delta region.

“To give effect to this, we decided to use the PPP model to provide alternative sources of funding for key development projects and programmes.”

The commission urged stakeholders to give it necessary support to ensure success of the venture.


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