Govt to pursue North Rail with China

The government is “committed” to pursue the North Rail project in Luzon with new Chinese contractors, Transportation Secretary Manuel Roxas said Tuesday.

Roxas said in an interview with reporters in Clark Freeport no less than President Benigno Aquino and Chinese President Hu Jintao discussed the North Rail project in their recent meeting.

“President Aquino told his Chinese counterpart that he is committed to having a high-speed rail link between Metro Manila central business district and Clark International Airport, because that is what the country really needs, a high speed rail system,” said Roxas.

He said the high-speed rail system would cut travel time between Clark and Metro Manila by 45 minutes.

Roxas, however, said the government may revise the original proposal in terms of funding, design and construction.

“Well, we’re really at zero, because what has been set up is a slow, old-technology commuter system built by China National Machinery and Equipment Corp. that had minimal if no experience in rail construction. So, the winning contractor assigned by China is one of the problems,” he said.

Roxas said the Chinese contractor had completed only one kilometer of the proposed 90-kilometer NorthRail system.

The Transportation Department submitted major revisions to the North Rail project last year. Under the proposed new contract, the government will write the terms of reference to ensure that the contractor has the capability and track record to carry out the rail project.

The new project will contain an entirely new train section that will connect the Makati central business district to Caloocan covering a 12-kilometer distance. Another section will link Mabalacat in Pampanga to Clark airport covering 15 kilometers.


Wuhan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd. : Wisco Heavy Rail moves into Sierra Leone

Recently, 12 thousand tons of high quality heavy rails made by the Heavy Section Branch of Wisco Bar Integral Plant have set sail from Honggangcheng dock, in Qingshan District where Wisco headquarters locates. The goods are descending towards the South China Sea via Shanghai city, rushing across vast Indian Ocean, breaking through Cape of Good Hope accompanying by surging waves, and heading for the Republic of Sierra Leone in West Africa. It indicates that Wisco heavy rail has realized the historical new leapfrog of "Walk Out" to explore overseas markets.

Selling heavy rail from home to abroad is meaning special for Wisco. Suffered from slowing down by high-speed railroading projects, domestic heavy rail market has been presenting a very sluggish demand situation since last year, four key heavy rail manufacturers such as Panzhihua Steel, Anshan Steel are all hunger for production orders,. To adapt to this severe market change, Wisco units including Bar Integral Plant, Marketing Company, and R&D Center gear together, proactively opening up channels to expand market for heavy rail marketing, and at the same time, strongly carrying out "synergy on production-marketing-research" with developing new section steel as steel sheet pile and cutting board steel and so on, to cope with wintry steel market by means of hypernormal measures.

At the end of last year, it was learnt that a mining company in Republic of Sierra Leone was constructing a special freight railway line. Then, Wisco Bar Integral Plant, Marketing Company and R&D Center worked together closely, proactively discussed with China Railway Material Company Limited, in partnership with Sierra Leone mining company, about heavy rail supply agreement. Through many rounds of tough negotiations and biddings, Wisco won contract of 12 thousand tons of heavy rails by superior product quality and relatively convenient geographical position.




Keeping China on the rails

AT THE opening of the annual session of China's parliament, the National People's Congress, Premier Wen Jiabao said the government's target for annual economic growth in 2012 was 7.5 per cent. With the global economy still struggling to recover, Wen's announcement of such a significant dip in China's growth rate naturally sparked widespread concern around the world.

But it is important to note that Wen was expressing a policy rather than forecasting performance. The purpose of targeting a lower growth rate, he explained, is ''to guide people in all sectors to focus their work on accelerating the transformation of the pattern of economic development and making economic development more sustainable and efficient''.

Fixed-asset investment is the most important engine of China's growth. As a developing country with annual per capita income of less than $US5000 ($A4800), there is still significant room for China to increase its capital stock. But the growth rate of investment is too high. The issue is not whether China needs more investment, but whether China's absorption capacity can continue to accommodate the rapid investment growth of the past decade.

In this sense, the investment rate, which in China approaches 50 per cent of gross domestic product and is rising, can be regarded as a measure of the stress that fixed investment places on the economy. It is not an exaggeration to say that the economy's capacity for investment growth has reached its limit.

The recent high-speed rail debacle is a case in point. In 2003, China built its first high-speed-rail project. As a key component of the 4 trillion yuan stimulus package introduced during the 2008-09 global financial crisis, investment in high-speed rail construction increased by leaps and bounds.

By the end of 2010, China's operational high-speed rail network surpassed 8000 kilometres, with another 17,000 kilometres being built. By contrast, all Western countries combined took a half-century to build a total of 6500 kilometres. Built in such haste, catastrophe was almost inevitable.

Investment growth that surpasses an economy's absorption capacity will lead to a deterioration in the efficiency of investment, which will harm long-term growth prospects. Evidence of this in China today is all too prevalent. To reverse this, some respite in investment growth is not only necessary, but also inevitable in a profit-driven economy.

While China's investment rate should be brought down to a sustainable level, an equally, if not more, important challenge is to adjust the structure of investment. For many years, the single most important category of investment in China has been real estate development, which accounts for roughly 10 per cent of GDP and a quarter of total investment. But resources need to be allocated to projects that build up human capital, provide public goods, and foster creativity and innovation. Adjusting the investment structure, however, will inevitably cause investment growth to decelerate, at least in the transitional period, thus leading to a slowdown in overall GDP growth.

International trade has played a pivotal role in China's economic development over the past 30 years. However, the global market can no longer absorb China's massive exports, particularly with the economic malaise in Europe and the US. Rising labor costs and a stronger yuan will also undermine China's export sector, causing GDP growth to slow this year.

Few would argue against China's need for slower but better growth. The problem is that if China wishes to lower the GDP growth rate to 7.5 per cent in 2012, from 9.2 per cent in 2011, without worsening the growth pattern by raising the high investment rate even further, the annual growth rate of investment must be equal to or less than 7.5 per cent.

A back-of-the-envelope calculation suffices to show that, unless the government is prepared to tolerate a further increase in the investment rate, achieving a GDP growth target of 7.5 per cent implies a significant fall in the growth rate of investment. To compensate for the negative impact on GDP growth, and with export growth constrained by weak global demand, consumption must rise even more sharply, which is hard to imagine. In other words, lowering the GDP growth rate to 7.5 per cent without making China's growth pattern even more irrational is an impossible mission.

So a more likely growth scenario for 2012 is that China's growth will be lower than in 2011, but still significantly higher than 7.5 per cent. Correspondingly, its investment-driven growth pattern will be strengthened further, though at a slowing pace. Otherwise, a policy-induced hard landing would be difficult to avoid.

How to achieve more moderate growth without causing a hard landing is one of the greatest challenges confronting the Chinese government. Despite the official target, most Chinese economists still bet on a growth rate well above 8 per cent for 2012.


Atlanta delegation travels through China, gathers rail ideas

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and a delegation of more than 40 people started a trade mission to China with a 190 mph train ride from the Shanghai airport to a sleek station in the city.

The trip not only got the group into the city but gave a glimpse of what some hope will be a future of mass transit in and out of Atlanta.

Proposals or talk of funding for a maglev -- short for magnetic levitation -- line running 120 miles between Atlanta and Chattanooga have bounced around since 1998, when Atlanta sought federal funding. Today, the plans and funding for either conventional rail or maglev between the two cities are far from complete. Critics call the idea fanciful.

Reed said the high-speed trip from Shanghai on Saturday would enable the Atlanta delegation to "take home solutions for the challenges Atlanta faces in the transportation sector."

The delegation is spending the week in China, with plans to touch on a wide range of issues, from seeing first-hand how China has expanded rail transportation to drawing Chinese businesses to Atlanta.

The Atlanta businesspeople have met with in-country experts, including Shanghai-based executives from Home Depot, who hosted a luncheon and discussed strategies for breaking into the Chinese market.

The delegation comes from a range of industries, including human resources, law and tourism. Michael R. Thomas, founder of a financial company called Thomas USAF, said he hopes to set up a regional center for EB-5 visas, allocated to foreigners who create jobs by investing in the United States.

Atlanta City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms said her top priority is attracting Chinese businesses to her southwest Atlanta district.

"I think it's going to be a good opportunity to talk about physical relocations," she said. "If it doesn't happen on this trip, hopefully it will happen in the future."

The trip started on a hectic pace. Sarah Hawk, an Atlanta immigration attorney with law firm Ogletree Deakins, said she arrived in Shanghai after about 20 hours of travel time. That included a transfer in Seoul, six movies and about one hour of sleep.

"When you look at the schedule we have, there is no question that this trip is all about business," Reed said Friday.

The maglev idea has never caught on in the United States.

"Maglev is expensive and energy intensive," said Randal O'Toole, a rail analyst at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, who said some estimates indicate that maglev requires three times as much energy as a comparable two-rail train. The 19-mile Shanghai line cost $1.2 billion to build, or roughly $63 million a mile, according to news reports.

Georgia's Department of Transportation has submitted a draft environmental impact statement for the Atlanta-to-Chattanooga line to federal highway and railroad officials. If the federal government approves this summer, GDOT could begin a second, more detailed phase of the environmental work, including selection of the final route and technology, said GDOT spokesman David Spear.
A decision about which technology to pursue -- maglev or conventional rail -- has not yet been made. The costs for maglev could run 10-15 percent higher than conventional rail, according to some estimates, but maglev could last longer because of the lack of moving parts.

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield supports the idea, said spokesman Richard Beeland.

"He knows this is going to be a while off," said Beeland. "But this is something we have to pursue."

Joe Ferguson, who works on the rail project for The Enterprise Center in Chattanooga, said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has told city officials that he supports the project and would like a rail line to eventually extend from Atlanta to Nashville, Louisville and Chicago.

Before the trade mission, Atlanta City councilman H. Lamar Willis said he planned to focus on Chinese rail systems for lessons on how Atlanta can move people and cargo more efficiently.

"China has done a phenomenal job with it," Willis said. "For Georgia and metro Atlanta, it's a really important conversation."



Bombardier awarded contract for Beijing Metro Line 14

Bombardier Transportation has announced that together with New United Group (NU) it has signed a contract with Beijing MTR Construction Administration Corporation for the supply of its ‘MITRAC’ propulsion equipment.

Bombardier will supply engineering, manufacturing, testing, commissioning and maintenance as well as initial propulsion spare parts for the new metro trains, which will be built by CNR Changchun Rail Vehicles Co. Ltd and CSR Sifang Co. Ltd.

The total value of the contract is approximately 469 million Chinese Renminbi (€56 million), with Bombardier’s share valued at approximately 208 million Chinese Renminbi (€25 million).

The propulsion equipment will be delivered from Bombardier’s production facilities in Vastera?s, Sweden and Changzhou, China.

The new metro cars for Beijing Metro Line 14 offer greater capacity and passenger comfort than the ones currently operating in the city.

The project marks one of the largest single bids in China for metro propulsion systems.

With a total length of 47.3 km, Line 14 is the longest metro line in Beijing and is expected to go into service by the end of 2014.


Lack Of Fund Slows Abuja Light Rail Project

Mr Jonathan Ivoke, Secretary of the FCT Transport Secretariat, has said that a lack of funds is hampering the Abuja Light Rail Project.

Ivoke told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja that the delay in the passage of the 2012 Budget had also affected the progress of work of the project.

He said that to obtain funds for the project necessitated the recent visit to China by a delegation, led by Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Finance Minister, to finalise a loan agreement with the Chinese Nexim Bank.

Ivoke said, however, that the project had so far reached about 21 per cent completion, adding that a number of tracks had already been laid.

He said that the project's completion date of 2013 was no longer feasible since a lot of work still needed to be done.

NAN recalls  that the Federal Government had earlier obtained a loan facility of N80 billion from the Chinese Government to complete the project.

The Abuja Light Rail is meant to ease the problem of traffic congestion in the FCT.

The FCT Minister, Sen. Bala Mohammed, had also said that the loan would go a long way to ensuring speedy completion of the project.

He said that the project would afford the residents cheaper means of transportation and scientifically reduce the traffic problems being experience on peak hours in Abuja.



Vossloh Expects Higher Demand To Boost Growth Ahead, Despite Lower Q4 Earnings

Vossloh AG (VOSSF.PK: News ) on Thursday said it expects a rebound in sales and earnings for the next two years with an all-time high order backlog. The positive outlook was issued after the German rail infrastructure provider reported a sharp decline in earnings for fourth quarter and fiscal 2011 as project delays in China burdened its operations.

Vossloh AG's CEO Werner Andree said, "2011 has been a challenging year yet 2012 will see Vossloh back on the growth track. This and next year sales and earnings are set to resurge. With our tall order backlog we have laid the groundwork."

In an operationally difficult year, the company reached a record order backlog of around 1.5 billion euros, giving it a launch pad for return to growth, the company said. By the close of fiscal 2011, demand for Vossloh's products and services was higher than ever. Especially buoyant was demand for locomotives and the new light rail vehicles.

For its fourth quarter, earnings fell 23.6 percent to 16.5 million euros from last year's 21.6 million euros. The company noted that prior-year results included 5.3 million euros from discontinued operations. Earnings per share, however, grew 9 percent to 1.33 euros from 1.22 euros a year earlier.

EBIT for the quarter edged down 3.1 percent to 28.6 million euros, with EBIT margin slipping by 0.1 percentage point to 8.6 percent. Quarterly sales were 333.3 million euros, 1.8 percent lower than last year's 339.4 million euros.

For fiscal 2011, earnings fell 42.8 percent and sales were down 11.4 percent with the decline at the Rail Infrastructure division being somewhat steeper than at the Transportation. The company said it experienced project delays in China, a suspension of shipments to Libya, and weak demand from several European markets.

Military to Vacate Meshualekia Camp for Light Rail Project Office

The Fourth Division of the Ethiopian Defence Forces is to move out from its camp at Meshualekia in Kirkos District within four months to avail the space for the storage of materials for the Addis Abeba Light Rail Construction Project Office.

The place has been a military camp since way back in the days of Emperor Haile Selassie. This was where the military regime that toppled the emperor was set up by 16 soldiers, according to John H. Spencer’s Ethiopia at Bay.

The emperor was also imprisoned for the last two months of his life there, separated from the rest of his family, who were detained at the residence of the duke of Harar in Addis Abeba, according to the same account. Derg officials used it as their residential quarters before moving to the National Palace.

Officials from the Defence Forces were told to move two months ago and that they would be splitting up and moving to the various camps in the city, they said. When they move out, the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group, a subsidiary of China Railway Group Ltd, will take it over, using it for non-military purposes for the first time. Giant construction machinery will be among the materials to be stored there, according to an official at the Railway Corporation.

The handover was decided following a request of the Ethiopian Railway Corporation to the government to that effect. City administration officials had visited the camp before the decision came.

The camp will be both a storage area and the North to South Addis Abeba Light Rail Project Office for the Chinese company, the main project office located next to the British Embassy, at Fikremarian Aba Techan Street.

The electrified light rail will include two lines, the North-South and East-West, 16.9kms and 17.35kms long respectively, with a capacity of 80 passengers per hour. The 9.2km Torhayloch-Megenagna line was designed by Core Consulting Engineers Plc for 3.6 million Br. The remaining 8.2km from  Megenagna to Ayat was also designed by Core in a separate conract. There will be tracks from Lideta through AtkiltTera to Merkato and from Meskel Square to Kality. Sixty percent of the financing is obtained from the Chinese government, the rest coming from the government of Ethiopia. The entire project is expected to cost 400 million dollars.


High-speed trains set the pace on simulator

High-speed trains may be running slower on the tracks, but the fast pace of research and development in China's laboratories has continued unabated.

The latest advancement, experts say, is a simulation facility that can test the durability of a brake system on a train traveling 530 kilometers an hour.

"The speed is the fastest in the world, higher than a similar test procedure in Germany that allowed a maximum speed of around 400 km an hour," Li Heping, a researcher with the China Academy of Railway Sciences, said.

Though the top bracket of China's high-speed trains was lowered for safety concerns to 300 kph, research focusing on increasing speed continues in order to gain a technological advance, researchers said.

Li expects that a domestic procedure to test braking systems at high speed could help Chinese and foreign manufacturers with production.

The procedure, or test bench that provides a simulated experience, was put into operation last month. It set a world record by allowing a maximum test speed of up to 530 kph.

Braking is obviously a key technology for high-speed trains. The test bench up to now for a braking system in China could only simulate conditions of 300 kph.

Domestic train manufacturers had to travel to other countries to test braking on their 380-kph trains, he said.

Officials from the International Union of Railways (UIC), an organization that promotes rail travel and looks at the challenges facing it, are expected to see the facility in May, Li said.

"If our test bench gets authentication from the UIC, manufacturers can use it for experiments and the results will be recognized worldwide," he said.

Located at an academy laboratory, the test bench can simulate various conditions, from extremely dry to raging storms.

China's largest train maker, CSR Corp Ltd, was reported in December to have launched a test train that can reach speeds of up to 500 km an hour.

However, Huang Qiang, academy chief researcher, said that this does not imply that China will develop faster models than the current 380 kph trains now.

"A number of factors determine train speed but research can continue so that we are prepared should the need arise," he said.

Though there's no immediate demand for faster trains, engineers are working on new high-speed models, including one that can withstand temperatures of -40 C which is expected to be put into service this year.

The Harbin-Dalian high-speed railway, which links three provinces in Northeast China, will travel in temperatures below -25 C.

Temperatures below this mark can play havoc with train transport.

For the new model, special steel must be used to prevent cracks, doors must be redesigned to avoid being frozen and stuck, and the train's ventilation and air-conditioning system will have to function without draining power.

Researchers are also looking at how to utilize high-speed trains for cargo as they will be able to transport perishable items just as planes do, he said.

China's high-speed railway network is expected to pass 10,000 km by the end of this year, the Ministry of Railways said in February.



China's rail system bracing for holiday travel rush

China's railway system is expecting heavy traffic during the travel rushes for the upcoming Qingming Festival and the May Day holiday, the Ministry of Railways (MOR) said Friday, Xinhua News Agency reported.
According to the MOR's forecast, some 27.4 million passengers, up 8 percent year-on-year, will travel via the railway system during the Qingming Festival, which falls between April 1 and April 4.
Passenger flow is expected to peak on April 2 when 7.45 million people are expected to travel by train, according to the MOR.
The railway system expects to transport about 32 million passengers, or 8.5 percent more than last year, during the May Day holiday, which will be celebrated from April 28 to May 1, the news agency reported.



Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Iran railway: well-forgotten past

Iranian, Afghan and Tajik presidents signed an agreement to develop the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Iran railway project during the fifth trilateral summit in Dushanbe on March 25. The presidents also decided that a joint working group will be established to undertake the necessary preparations. The meeting of the group must be held in Tehran in two months.

When U.S President Barack Obama addressed an audience in Cushing, Oklahoma, a few days ago, he pointed out the weak spot in the country's energy strategy. He added that we drill and extract enough oil. Every year we increase production volumes. The number of drilling rigs has recently reached record levels, but we do not have enough pipeline capacity. We cannot quickly deliver this oil to our refineries. According to the president, the solution to this problem would reduce U.S. dependence on imported oil and gas prices in the country.

Perhaps, the analogy with Central Asia is not entirely correct, but it clearly demonstrates how the presence or absence of a transport infrastructure affects the economy of world leaders. The continental insularity of the Central Asian countries used to playing a key role in the commercial corridor called the Silk Road does not give them the opportunity to fully realise their economic potential. Last year's situation with Kazakh grain and the search for additional funds for its export transportation is an example.

The proposed construction project of the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan-Afghanistan-Iran railway is almost an exact copy of one of the Silk Road routes. A very weak railway infrastructure in three countries immediately strikes the eye. The total length of railway network in Tajikistan is about 600 kilometres and less than 400 in Kyrgyzstan. Afghanistan does not have it. It is not well developed in Iran across its eastern borders. This makes the project too expensive.
Another issue is what to transport? The fact all three countries are oil dependent also strikes the eye. This is good news for Iran. There are few alternatives to Iranian oil and related products and in the opposite direction, small volumes of cotton, wool, aluminium, minerals, agricultural products and a few more items of goods (Kyrgyz gold has traditional buyers).

One cannot speak about the transportation of non-produced deposits of rare earth metals in Afghanistan. One of the decisive factors will be the speed of goods transportation. Therefore, safety of transportation, rules for crossing borders between the countries, the unification of shipping documents, the transparency of customs control may seem as challenges.
Freight flow from China, for example through the China-Central Asia transport corridor with an extension to the Persian Gulf would really increase the attractiveness of the project. By the way, China is now studying the possibility of building a railroad through Afghanistan to the Afghan-Tajik border.

The Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan-Iran-Persian Gulf railway is being actively constructed within the North-South transport corridor. This project will bring direct commercial relations between the two Central Asian countries outside the region to the ocean. The documents signed in Dushanbe, can break through this 'natural insulation' of two more countries in the region which would benefit from this.


Nigeria: Okonjo-Iweala - Development Projects Will Materialise in Two Years

The quest for requisite financing and skills to tackle the deplorable infrastructure, with a view to catalysing the development of the economy, took Nigeria to China. Besides, the China trip, which was undertook by a high-powered delegation including six ministers and two state governors, was an opportunity for the Federal Government to 'systematise' the approach of negotiation between the Chinese government/ development finance institutions and Nigeria. Kunle Aderinokun, who spoke with Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in Beijing and Guangzhou, presents the excerpts

Mission to China

We are seeking fresh financing support and in some cases additional support, for priority development projects- those that will be particularly beneficial to the people. Examples are the Abuja light rail- we need a better mass transit system in Abuja, so we are here looking at that with the minister of FCT and trying to get the Chinese who are already working on it to give further support to be able to finish it.

We are also looking at railway modernisation projects, again, this has started with the minister of transport so that we can finish setting key lines that on-going Kano-Maiduguri, Lagos -Ibadan, amongst others that need to be modernised.

We are also looking at aviation, to be able to construct some new terminals in our major airport, Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt and Abuja. So these are very concrete and specific projects.

The minister of agriculture is also looking at how to support the ambitious programme of rice production that we have in the country and job creation in the agriculture sector, with particular respect to rice mill and getting rice milling capacity, so that when we produce, we will be able to process.

Outcome of Interaction with Chinese Officials in Beijing

We met with the minister of commerce who is responsible for bilateral commercial relationships and credit and loans. We also met with his deputy minister and I will say that at both, we had an extremely good meeting where we were able to talk about the priority projects and programmes for moving along the agenda of government and I think we got a lot of support.

We have some on-going projects with China which we need to systematise, the president also is not just to get these projects moving, but to make sure that we systematise all our lending so that we get the most concessional rate available for us.

Systematising Negotiations and Credits and Rates

Right now, we have noticed a phenomenon where lot of Chinese companies come to different ministries and agencies with particular projects they are interested in and then when the MDAs says yes, they sometimes go and help negotiate the credit but we want to change this because this approach doesn't always take into account our priorities, so what the president has said when I say systematisation, it means that we outline what our priorities are and we try to negotiate the same beneficial rate for all our projects so that we have a systematic approach.

Now we are here and we have outlined our priorities in agriculture, aviation, rail, transport, road, mainly infrastructure and agriculture that is what we are looking at.

We are looking at a very favourable rate, in line with our fiscal responsibility law which says we must borrow at a very concessional rate of not more than 3 per cent. We have already set the guidelines of what we are going to try and negotiate but may be some areas that we will insists on commercial rates but our objective here is to get concessional rates as much as we can.

With other agencies, like the multilaterals, we have a framework within which we work with them which is called the country assisted strategy for each institution where we outline our priorities, we now agree with them on how to support the federal government and the state within these priorities but we didn't have such approach with China and so it was a little disorganized but now with kind of new approach we will have it organised according to our priorities and like we said in the external borrowing plan.

We are seeking about $3 to $3.5 billion from the Chinese over the next two to three years. Our external borrowing plan is a medium term one, from 2012 to 2014-three years, and we are seeking about $2.6 billion a year and we are being very prudent, to make sure that we keep our debt to GDP ratios and all the ratios on borrowing very prudent. We have a ceiling for our debt, not to be more than 30 per cent of GDP. Right now, it is 20 per cent, and with this additional borrowing because our GDP is growing, at 6 to 7 per cent, we are going to have it maintained at 20 per cent.

Other countries outside usually use a ratio of 60 per cent but we have decided in Nigeria to go for a ceiling of 30 per cent and we are 10 points below that at the moment, and we are going to keep it very prudent.

The $3 billion is part of the $7.9 billion. As of now, on the loan side. We have a total of $1.5 billion we have borrowed from China since 2001 which is quite modest compared to some other African countries. We have been very prudent with them.

If you take $7.9 billion over three years, that gives you $2.6 billion a year. The $7.9 billion includes $3 billion from China, but borrowing from African Development Bank, World Bank, Islamic Development Bank, French Aid Agency, China and India. These are estimates of what we want to get from the all these sources.

Lagos-Ibadan Express way is not part of what we are talking about; it is Lagos-Ibadan rail.

Tomorrow, we are meeting with the Export-Import Bank, and with the China Development Bank. We had are all good meeting with the minister of commerce and then a long working meeting with the vice minister. This afternoon, we are meeting with the ministry of finance, in terms of giving support for us to get access to this.

Insistence on Concessional Lending with China Development Bank

Well as you know, during the previous time, under the former President Obasanjo's government, when I was also minister of finance, after we did the debt deal that liberated the country from $30billion debt, we felt that we had gone through a phase where we needed to put through the fiscal responsibility act that will govern the way the government behaves in terms of borrowing. And in terms of what interest rates they can take, and of course the National Assembly and the entire nation have been quite allergic to taking up much further debt at that kind of interest rates.

So what we did in that act is to put in a provision at that time, and the National Assembly passed the provision for borrowing at concessional rate, perhaps not more than 3 per cent or if its more, you have to blend it with even more concessional rates, so that overall we have a portfolio of loans that are not at commercial rate, or concessional rate.

So we had to explain to the Chinese that this is our approach, and our law, and therefore when we were discussing with them. China Development Bank mostly does its business on commercial lending, so we had to discuss with them, whether there is any other way we can blend facilities with them and maybe the EXIM Bank to come out with a rate that is concessional overall for the Chinese loans.

Progress on Support for Aviation and Abuja Light Rail Projects

I think we have been borrowing from the EXIM Bank before now; we have about $1.5billion equivalent in loans, from the EXIM Bank, (Export Import Bank of China), which is quite relatively modest when you look at our debt ratios. We have never had any facilities from China Development Bank, and yet this is one of the most active banks in China. So we were able to explain to them that we have two priority sectors, that we want then to focus on, which is the aviation sector, and the light rail.

EXIM Bank will be giving some facilities for the light rail, but they won't be able to give all that is needed, so we thought that China Development Bank could complement that.

And I think we were able to make quite a bit of progress, following our first meeting, the minister of aviation and minister of FCT, also sat with them and were able to agree an MoU, and in that MoU, the next steps for carrying it forward, the papers that we have to produce were all agreed, with an action to be taken within two weeks, that what am happy about.

So I think when we get back, the two ministers will assembly what is needed, so we can get back to the Chinese people. Our Ambassador to China, His Excellency, Ambassador Aminu Wali, will be helping us to follow up very closely.

Support for Galaxy Backbone from EXIM Bank

With the EXIM Bank, what we achieved is that those projects that have been stalled, for example, the issue of the galaxy backbone project, which is designed to complete our infrastructure for e-government in the country. They have been discussing these things since 2006, but the project has not taken off, so we were able to discuss with them. What is really the blockage? What is outstanding, and we noted that there were some mix-ups in communication. They were asking us some questions, about the project and been face-face, we were able to answer.

Sometimes when you are writing each other letters, it can take years, and it doesn't get anywhere, but when we actually came as a delegation, the Managing Director, was able to explain to them exactly what we needed, and answer all their questions, we made a lot of progress. We were able to submit all the necessary papers, and now basically, we have agreed within the next couple of weeks, they will send a consultant to do some assessment and evaluation of the project, and it will take off.

Breakdown of Financial Support from China

I think from EXIM Bank $2- $2.5billion, and from China Development Bank, anything from $800-$1billion, because we are looking at about $3-$3.5billion in total.

Accelerating Government's Efforts at Ensuring Nigerians Get Benefits of Subsidy Removal

The President's drive and intention is to accelerate specific programmes that are beneficial to the people to get them done during this term and that is why we have embarked first on use of the subsidy savings to try and improve some services on the ground, we have therefore o this social safety net programme.

The President launched a job creation programme for 370,000 jobs a year, mainly for our youths, and that is an accelerated programme, we have embarked on it already, we are going to be working on it, the impact will be seen. This is in addition to the one he launched before, the YOUWIN programme for skilled youths designed to create another 80, 000 to 100,000 jobs over three years.

We have the mass transit programme, that has already been launched and it is now going to be accelerated so that we have these buses that can bring transport costs down but it is being run by the private sector in partnership with government.

In conjunction with that, we have this infrastructure programme, we are here in China because we also want to accelerate some of them, some are on-going and we want to finish that quickly. But I think it is very important like the rail modernisation project, we want to ensure that in the life time of the administration, one or two of them are at least completed for Nigerians to be able to see.

The Abuja light rail, this will be enormously beneficial for mass transit in the capital. We want that completed and we make sure that in the next two to three years, that we have seen some feasible efforts and progress on that.

On the technology, they had already been a subsisting agreement on Galaxy backbone to finish laying that backbone for the country's technology and information highway and that had been dragging and the managing director is here for us to try and conclude that arrangement so that the work can be completed.

Negotiations had already started for a $100 million but they were not concluded and he is here to conclude that, it is very important that we get as much of the country with this technology infrastructure because this is what they young people need. I also believe that the medium term will be finished, most of these projects we are talking about, the idea is that by 2015; many of them will either have been finished or gone such a long way.

The Bauchi governor has come here to negotiate a power project for Bauchi state for $171 million, so he is part of the delegation. And the Niger Delta, the East West Highway, is under construction but there are certain segments of the road that are not yet financed, so the Niger Delta minister is also here seeking for us to complete financing for that project.

We have chosen really top priority projects to focus on.

World Bank Facilitating Negotiations between China and African countries

What the World Bank is trying to do is get a good relationship between China and African countries in a way that they can also benefit from the knowledge that China has. As you know, China has been to take 400 million out of poverty within the past two decades, that is an amazing number, they6 have been able to get their agriculture to grow, to feed all these numbers of people they have-1.2 billion, and they have done very well in infrastructure, so with all of that I th8ink the World Bank felt there were lessons to be learned by other countries, not just Africa but even smaller Asian countries as well. There is room for Chinese government to have bilateral relationships with African governments, including Nigeria for Chinese companies that are capable to assisting the development but it must be done according to the priorities of the country.

Visit to Guangzhou

Thank you, but let me say that the visit to Guangzhou was really focused at something very specific, it was focused on following up on a tripartite arrangement where the world Bank has been trying to get the Guangdong government to establish industries, especially manufacturing in African countries, and Nigeria has been taken as one of the examples.

I discussed this also with the minister of investment, to pursue it, because we want to make sure that the manufacturing of electronics, of textiles, and all sorts of light manufacturing's can be established in Nigeria, because we are buying their goods. So why not they put up factories here, so that we can get the jobs.

Progress Made in that Area

I was very pleased, we had an excellent meeting with the vice governor of the province, and where we sorted out some things. They expressed their about assess to power if their companies should come to Nigeria, about the rule of law, that the legal environment is such that their companies will have rights, we were able to assure them assess to land and other things that will be needed. They talked about the issue of having clusters of free zones, in which they could operate, and I think that in those areas, we will be able to satisfy them. And we agreed that look at one or two companies. We actually visited two companies, TCL, which makes LCD, LED TVs, and other household appliances like the washing machines, irons, fans amongst others, and also Media, which also makes very nice household appliances.

And with some of this, you can begin with assembling, with CKD and all that, and then you can progress with manufacturing. So we actually visited them and while they need a little bit of time to visit Nigeria and make sure that the environment is suitable for them to set up.

We had Justin Lin, the Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank, he's Chinese, and a renowned Chinese academic, and who is now at the World Bank, and he came to help us. And if Chinese companies are to be setting up in Africa, we want to make sure that Nigeria benefits, so we can have jobs. And if we are consuming their products, I repeat that if we can get them to manufacture them in our country that means we gain through the job creation. He was very helpful, and even Bob Zoelick, the World Bank President will also help to push it.

As part of that visit, we found out that there is a substantial number of Nigerian citizens in Guangzhou, in Guangdong Province, which is the manufacturing hub of China, and there are thousands of our citizens in Guangzhou, some of them trading, some with factories etc.

We also tried to talk to some of them that instead of creating jobs for the Chinese let them come home, and establish the factories, so they can create jobs for young Nigerians. We also went to the market, where many of them are traders, a large number of them are from the eastern states, and as we were taking to the traders in the shops, the news went round that I was around, and so was the Ambassador, his excellency was also around. All of a sudden, up to 500-600 people appeared, and it was an exciting experience.

Impression about TCL Electronics Manufacturing Plant in Guangzhou

Well my impression is that there is a lot of things been done with technology here. For different household appliances, example, TV, or washing machines, or all the things that we need to make our lives comfortable.

And it fascinating, the different types of technology, they are trying, 3D for the TVs, different types of 3D, and really impressed. And I hope that we can manage to persuade a company like this to come and operate in Nigeria. So that we can also have access to that technology, and even improve on it by ourselves.

Moving Chinese Manufacturing Concerns to Nigeria

Well we are exploring it, and the nice thing is that, these companies started just like a small concern, and they have grown over 20-30 years into huge cooperation, and they also started from huge technology from South Korea from Samsung, and have graduated into growing their own things technology wise. So it gives you hope that if can actually persuade a company like this to come and work with us, eventually we too will be making our own technology. Who knows what will happen 20-30 years from now?

The second interesting thing is that they already have a joint venture partners in Nigeria with whom they are manufacturing the products- I think it is Polysonic, so that means they have a foot hold already, and we can persuade them to do even more.

What Nigeria Takes Home from the China Visit

We are taking back two things. One is the support for strong strategic relationship between Nigeria and China, from the top levels of Chinese policy-making, and two, specific support in terms of $3-$3.5billion that we will see materialise over the next 2years for us to supports projects in aviation, building new terminals, in light rail, in road transport, in agriculture, amongst others. This is focused on agriculture and infrastructure, and other areas where Nigerians want us to make progress.

We will also see some openings of Chinese Companies in Nigeria, and Nigerians manufacturing in China bring the work back home, so that we can create jobs.




Weidmuller wins the Siemens Supplier Award 

Picked in the "Best Overall" category from 91,000 suppliers

Siemens honors its best suppliers each year – for those companies with long-term and profoundly optimized processes throughout the shared supply chain, technological expertise, sustainability, global presence and innovation. Weidmuller was nominated in the categories of sustainability, global value sourcing and drive through innovation. The company was honored as a finalist in the category "Best Overall Supplier 2011".

The prize was given to Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Volpert Briel by Barbara Kux, a member of the Managing Board of Siemens AG, Head of Supply Chain Management and Chief Sustainability Officer, in a ceremony for the Third Siemens Supplier Forum in Feldafing, Germany.

"This prize is a confirmation for us that we create added value for our customers through our innovation and our service," enthused Briel. He then took the trophy with him to Nürnberg to the SPS/IPC DRIVES automation trade fair, where it received a place of honor at Weidmuller's exhibition stand. "We are very proud of this award. It is the result of many years of superb cooperation between our employees – especially the sales teams with Siemens Purchasing" explains CEO Dr. Peter K?hler.

Weidmuller was particularly convincing because of their personal proximity and outstanding services. "The relationship with Weidmuller is characterized by open communication. Another plus is the excellent technical support," explained Goran Cirkovic, a senior director at Siemens PUC Group, about the honor.

The Siemens Supplier Award 2011 is awarded under the auspices of Barbara Kux. There are four categories of awards for the more than 91,000 suppliers. Awards are granted based on performance that is clearly better than the competition for fiscal year 2011.

MTR Awards Outstanding Contractors in New Railway Projects

As part of MTR’s continuing efforts to promote the highest standards of work site safety, the Corporation recently presented awards to contractors that have achieved outstanding
performance in safety management in the new railway projects, namely the West Island Line (WIL), Express Rail Link (XRL), South Island Line (East) [SIL(E)] and the Kwun Tong Line Extension (KTE), while also delivering these projects in a high-quality and environmentally friendly manner during the period between June 2011 to December 2011. 
Speaking at the MTR Projects Quality, Safety & Environmental Awards Presentation Ceremony, Mr Jay Walder, the Chief Executive Officer of MTR Corporation, praised the project teams, contractors and consultants for their dedication in safety, quality and
environmental management.  “Safety is, most critically, the highest priority in our projects. This culture of safety has been cultivated by MTR for 30 years and it is important to recognise the contributions made by our colleagues. But this is also a partnership and
we rely on our contractors to carry out and promulgate our emphasis on safety. So it is important that we create explicit ways like today’s event to recognise their success in this area,” he said. 
Nishimatsu Construction for SIL(E) was named the MTR Grand Safety Awardee for its outstanding safety management system. Gammon Construction Limited won the Gold
Safety Awards again for its continuous effort  in safety management of the WIL project.  The Gold awards for XRL, SIL(E) and KTE projects went to Leighton Contractors (Asia) Limited, Nishimatsu Construction Company  Limited and Penta-Ocean Construction Company Limited in recognition of their strong commitment to a safe working environment, effective monitoring and reporting system, as well as their efforts in developing a strong safety culture on site. 
The MTR Gold Quality Award was won by Dragages - Bouygues Joint Venture for its quality work in project management, reporting and sit work on the XRL project.
Penta-Ocean of the XRL received the Gold Environmental Award with innovative environmental management approach.  Penta-Ocean has taken a creative approach in XRL work site in Mai Po to minimize the noise impact to the tranquil suburban area by locating its site offices to form a natural noise barrier with noise absorption material on the external panels of the site office. Penta-Ocean was also praised for its effort in supporting the local recycling industry by utilizing recycled compost material for on-site greening and participating actively in sharing their experience with the community and green groups in a number of organized visits.



MTR Welcomes the Authorization of Shatin to Central Link

The MTR Corporation welcomes the authorization of the 17-km Shatin to Central Link (SCL) by the Chief Executive-in-Council under the  Railways Ordinance announced today (27 March 2012).  
“The SCL will play a critically  vital part in connecting all districts of Hong Kong with an integrated rail network,” said Mr Jay Walder, Chief Executive Officer of MTR Corporation. “It will provide much needed railway service to the East Kowloon District including Ho Man Tin, To Kwa Wan, Ma Tau Wai and Kai Tak, and will go a long way to facilitating these areas to rejuvenate and prosper.”  

Subject to the funding approval for the project, the construction is expected to start in mid-2012.  The section between Tai Wai and Hung Hom is expected to be completed first in 2018.  The Hung Hom to Admiralty Section would be completed in 2020 as this section needs to interface with other infrastructure projects, including the Wan Chai Development Phase II and Central-Wan Chai Bypass.  It is estimated that the SCL will create 16,000 jobs.  

Technical support:| Contribute| Custom
Address: 1-1210 Chengnandadao Plaza, Gongyixi Bridge, Fengtai District, Beijing China Postalcode:10006
Tel:86-10-51662621/22 Fax:86-10-88583069     【京ICP备13032135号】  【京公网安备11010602004570号】