Abandoned since 1985, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration has expressed commitment to ensure that the Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line is resuscitated.
The President spoke virtually yesterday during the ground-breaking ceremony of three projects, namely: the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Port Harcourt– Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge railway project, Bonny Deep Sea Port and Railway Industrial Park, Port-Harcourt.
The President said the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt–Maiduguri railway would reactivate economic activities along the Eastern corridor, which have been greatly affected by insecurity. He added that the country’s aspiration for nationwide transport infrastructure and railways would be significantly enhanced by these three projects conceived to be integrated in their operations.
According to the President, the Bonny Deep Sea Port and the Railway Industrial Park are to be constructed through direct investments from Chinese partners and international financing agencies.
The President explained that the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri railway reconstruction project with new branch lines to Owerri, Imo State and Damaturu, Yobe State would resuscitate the once vibrant railway transportation in the Eastern railway corridor of the country.
He said these projects would serve transportation and supply chain network for domestic needs and export as well as support imports into the hinterland of the country through the new deep sea port in Bonny Island. He added that the funding of the railway is through a loan to fund 85% project cost and the Federal Government contribution of 15% as counterpart funding.
Urging all Nigerians especially industrialists, manufacturers and businesses within the zones to take maximum advantage of this infrastructure in planning for expansion and building new factories, President Buhari said the projects when completed would raise Nigeria’s economy to the global stage while reaffirming its leading role in Africa.
He further explained that there will be further utilization of local contents and technology transfer, increase in internally generated revenue and would serve as a fulcrum for the achievement of the Federal Government planned Integrated Development Master-plan.
While delivering his welcome address, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, affirmed that the Ministry was working in line with the President’s directives to implement the Nigeria Railway Modernization project and progressively expand the railway network.
‘‘In this regard, the rail-line connection from Enugu to Awka–Onitsha and Abakaliki is undergoing necessary feasibility studies and preparation of conceptual design”, he said.