Lagos-Calabar Rail: China To Aid 2-Year Completion Plan

Chinese (economic) invasion well and truly on

After a tedious and shambolic budgeting process, the Lagos-Calabar rail project is finally back on track. Our new best friends the People’s Republic of China have made the project a reality.

This is likely to be the first of many high profile (infrastructural) deals involving the Chinese government. Recall the cloudy SWAP agreement signed between Nigeria and China by President Buhari. This arrangement is meant to reduce the pressure on the Naira as demand for the dollar falls in favour of the Yuan.

As a fallout from the same presidential trip, the People’s Republic of China is to assist in the execution of the US$2.5billion Metro Rail Transit Line project in Lagos.

Then last week, the Petroleum minister returned from a trip to China where he declared that the ministry had negotiated investment deals worth over US$80billion.

Part Chinese, part Nigerian

There is no doubt the flexible funding arrangements between the 2 governments is a win-win structure. First, the Chinese government has the highest cash (forex) reserves of any country in the world today. This therefore implies that China has the largest investment capacity globally (See China’s Go-Out policy).

Nigeria on the other hand is in desperate need of investible funds with soft repayment terms. This seemingly simple financial arrangement is however underscored by China’s need for raw materials, especially energy. There is also China’s need for international positioning and influence. Maybe to rival other world powers?

Exactly how this new alliance will play out economically, politically and even culturally remains to be seen.

Lagos-Calabar: Light at the end of the tunnel

The Lagos-Calabar rail project has been in the pipeline for several years. In truth, the contract was signed under the last administration of the PDP under former President Jonathan. For all the wrong reasons however, it did not take off. The project was almost scuttled again this year when it was inexplicably removed from the 2016 budget.

The signing of the contract is therefore a great relief, and opens the way for more ancillary businesses and investments in the many towns along the Lagos-Calabar rail track. The economic implications of the completion of the project are immense and will add significantly to the economic activities between the SW, the SE and the SS.

The current momentum should hopefully see the signing of the even older Lagos-Calabar coastal road project. This project has been in the works for upwards of 30 years with no appreciable development by successive governments. But change is here.

More to come from the alliance (or dalliance) with China?

Lagos is home to some of the world’s most exotic mulattos (half castes, or bi-racials if you want to be politically correct). Part Brazilians, part Americans, part Europeans, part Lebanese and even part Indians.  Remember also that the Lagos state government has officially adopted Mandarin as a subject of study in state schools.

We can only wonder therefore how much longer we will wait for ‘half caste’ Nigerian-Chinese children to become part of our racial landscape.

With even more Chinese workers coming into the country, and given our welcoming nature as a people, we reckon the wait won’t be long.

 

Ifeanyi Maduka

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