Nigeria, China sign $1.3bn railway deal
The China Railway Construction Corporation Limited has signed a contract for a $13.1 billion railway project with the Ministry of Transport for a coastal railway line that will transverse ten states in Nigeria.
The length of the railway line will be 1,385 kilometres in one-way mileage and a design speed of 120 km/h, including 22 railway stations which would be constructed along the line.
In a statement yesterday, the company said one of its subsidiaries, the China Civil Engineering Group Company, signed the contract and that the two parties were still discussing the details based on the released framework.
Also, briefing State House correspondents at the end of bilateral discussions between both countries, President Goodluck Jonathan disclosed that issues of common interest to both countries such as economic cooperation, trade, political and cultural relations were reviewed between himself and the visiting Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, who is in the country on an official visit.
According to Jonathan, “We are satisfied with the achievements recorded in those fields. We also agreed that the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the strategic partnership between our two countries, coming up in 2015, should be marked to further deepen our relations.
“We undertook to maintain the momentum of exchange of visits at all levels, including between governments, political parties and legislatures in order to promote mutual understanding and trust.”
He said he reiterated Nigeria’s commitment to the One-China policy, while the premier expressed firm support for federal government’s efforts at safeguarding the nation’s sovereignty, security and territorial integrity, as well as promoting economic development.
“We agreed to encourage our bastions, companies to further deepen cooperation in infrastructure development, especially the railways, power plants and airports.
“We also agreed that the economic cooperation zones established by Chinese enterprises in Nigeria have achieved tangible progress and that those enterprises should be encouraged to invest in various fields of the Nigerian economy.
“We further expressed support for the financial institutions of the two countries for cooperation in on-lending to small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.
“We also undertook that the central banks of the two countries should promote local currency settlements to facilitate bilateral trade and investment.
“At the end of our discussions, our ministers signed a number of bilateral cooperation agreements and memorandums of understanding, among them is the Bilateral Air Services Agreement (BASA), which will definitely promote greater people-to-people contact and also enhance bilateral trade and commerce.
“We agreed to deepen cooperation in the field of defence and security and strengthen cooperation in counter terrorism, anti-piracy and combating organised crimes,” the president said.
He noted that the Chinese premier expressed firm support for the government’s efforts at safeguarding Nigeria sovereignty and securing its territorial integrity, as well as promoting economic development.
“The premier promised that China will assist Nigeria in our fight against terror, especially our commitment and efforts to rescue the girls that were taken away from a secondary school in Chibok, Borno State,” Jonathan added.
Speaking, Keqiang disclosed that both countries agreed to strengthen their bilateral cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, financial services, trade and investment, agriculture, air services, aerospace and people-to-people exchange.
He said China was determined to work with Nigeria to ensure the quality and safety of mutual exchange and exports.
“I wish to emphasise that we know that the government and people of Nigeria pay high attention to the coastal rail project in Nigeria.
“The project is quite significant to the national security and economic development of the country. Chinese companies have already shown a key interest in this project and the Chinese government will give support to the cooperation between the two sides of the project in terms of financing and expertise.
“We want to work with Nigeria on the conclusion of the project so that it will bring benefits to the people of Nigeria.
“During my current visit this time to Nigeria, we reached new agreements between our two countries and also the purpose of my visit is to ensure that there will be smooth and solid progress in implementing these agreements.
“We are happy to see that in recent years, there has been very rapid economic growth in Nigeria and Nigeria has become the largest economy in the Africa continent,” the Chinese premier added.
He observed that the Nigerian economy had sustained the upward momentum, saying Nigeria is one of China’s major trading partners in Africa, adding trade between the two countries last year reached about $30.6 billion.
“We hope to see not just more trade between us but also stronger cooperation between the two countries in the development of agriculture in Nigeria.
“During this visit, we will also be a signing cooperation agreement with regards to public health and science and technology,” he concluded.