The Transportation Minister, Hon Rotimi Amaechi Tuesday explained why an Israeli firm, HLSI Security Systems and Technologies, was the choice of the federal government in the maritime security contract worth $195 million.

Speaking to newsmen in Abuja, Amaechi said the idea was simply to tame the criminals operating on the nation’s territorial waters.

He said the foreign company is expected to train Nigerian personnel on how to secure the waterways.

According to him, “Currently, there are criminal activities in our waterways which has made people in some parts of the country charge what they call war insurance. War insurance means that you go to an area where there is war, but you know that there is no war there.

“But in such areas, criminal activities are taking place in the waterways. So with the approval, after we’ve put the processes in place, we will ensure that there is security on our waters.”

The Minister said the Ibadan-Kano double gauge rail line will cost the nation the sum of $8 billion, adding that the rail will pass through many states namely Osun, Ekiti, Ondo, Kwara and Niger before getting to Kaduna and Kano.

Amaechi disclosed that has been negotiating about $6bn loan from the Chinese EXIM Bank for the project.

According to him, “We are currently in negotiations with the China Exim Bank to get about $6bn to do (rail lines) from Ibadan to Kano. It is a difficult decision. Why is it difficult? The money required is about $8bn to do a double track but the Chinese are insisting that they can’t fund the double track.”

He added that there are strong plans to connect the rail with Lagos ports, dry ports in the north to maximize the economic benefits.

“They (Chinese) are asking us to do a single track and they want it at Minna so that instead of going from Minna to Kaduna, we should go from Minna to Abuja and then join it from Abuja to Kaduna. But there are those who argue that we should not accept that, rather we should tell them (Chinese) to fund it in segments. This, however, does not make economic sense”.