Mambilla: We Won’t Encourage White Elephant Projects, China tells FG

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Zhou Pingjian, the Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, has said his country will not support white elephant projects.

The ambassador made this comment on Thursday when he received Saleh Mamman, the minister of power, and Suleiman Adamu, the minister of water resources, and Jedy Goddy-Agba, the minister of state for power.

At the meeting, the ministers assured Pingjian that the federal government is committed to the actualisation of Mambilla power project which was conceived 40 years ago.

According to a statement released on Thursday by Aaron Artimas, the minister’s special assistant on media and communication, Mamman said the federal government is working to remove any impediment that could pose a threat to the delivery of the project.

He urged the Chinese diplomat to impress on China EXIM Bank to expedite action and ensure that the loan meant for the project is released for work to commence.

He insisted that the Chinese government had enough influence to impress on EXIM Bank to hasten the process as the project could not be frustrated by any arbitration.

Adamu said an environmental impact assessment on the project is being carried out and a memorandum of understanding has been signed with the Taraba state government as compensation to landowners that would be affected by the project.

On the release of an interim fund of $200 millions by the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Agency, Adamu said that the ministry of justice is already working on a comfort letter to the China EXIM Bank.

Adamu explained that although arbitration is ongoing with a previous investor on the project, the government is willing to indemnify any funds agreed after the arbitration without affecting the loan agreement with EXIM Bank.

In his response, Pingjian made it clear that his country would not encourage white elephant projects.

He advised the ministers to promote direct participation of the Chinese government or companies in some of its projects so as to reduce much borrowing and facilitate easier execution of projects.

Pingjian said that although the Chinese government would not push the Eximbank, it would try its best to impress on it to meet its commitments.

The construction of the 3, 050 megawatts power plant is estimated to cost $5.72 billion with the Nigerian government providing 15% as counterpart funding.

The Chinese government is expected to provide the rest in the form of loans.

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