• Wednesday, April 17, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Eastern rail gains traction as CCECC completes Port Harcourt to Aba track

Shippers’ Council frowns at theft of rail equipment linking ports

The China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation Ltd. (CCECC) says it has completed the laying of track from Port Harcourt to Aba on the Nigeria Eastern Narrow-Gauge Railway project.

John Zhao, chief representative and executive director of CCECC, disclosed this today on his X handle, @JohnCCECC.

“New Year, new progress! The track laying from Port Harcourt to Aba on the Nigeria Eastern Narrow-Gauge Railway project has been completed by #CCECC,” Zhao said in the X post.

According to him, the track work completed by CCECC is for renovating the original Eastern Railway.

In April 2022, the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation commenced construction of the 2044.1km Port Harcourt-Maiduguri narrow gauge railway project.

After coal was discovered at Udi in Enugu State, the Eastern Railway was built to Port Harcourt between 1913 and 1916. This railway was extended to Kaduna via Kafanchan in 1927, connecting the Eastern Railway to the Lagos–Kano Railway.

It was extended to its northeastern terminus of Maiduguri between 1958 and 1964.

After being abandoned for several years and the track vandalised, the eastern line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri was restored in 2009 for $427 million by Lingo Nigeria, Eser West Africa, and the China Gezhouba Group.

Reacting to the development, Chukwunedum Ekwenibe @MiriEnwe1lo, said the economic viability of this route deserves nothing short of a standard gauge.

“Standard gauge (1435 mm or 4 feet 8.5 inches) is the most widely used and efficient rail gauge globally for both passenger and freight transportation. It allows for interoperability and seamless connectivity between rail networks,” Ekwenibe said.

Another Nigerian identified as Administrator @Phranknigel expressed excitement over the development.

“Incredible news! Completing track laying from Port Harcourt to Aba marks a significant milestone in the Nigeria Eastern Narrow-Gauge Railway project. Exciting progress for the New Year!” he said.

Tonami Playman @TonamiPlayman described the rail as another wasteful rail project being executed in Nigeria.

“Why waste money refurbishing the narrow-gauge corridor between PHC & Aba when it will have to be ripped up again once Nigeria gets serious?” he questioned.