• Sunday, May 19, 2024
businessday logo


FG to begin operations on completed Port Harcourt-Maiduguri line

FG to begin operations on completed Port Harcourt-Maiduguri line

The Federal Government has concluded arrangements to commence operations on the Port Harcourt to Aba stretch of the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri narrow-gauge rail.

Also, the Federal Government has promised to give priority attention to the rehabilitation of the 1,443 km Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri narrow gauge rail project.

This will help to facilitate trade, enhance mobility and access, and ensure connectivity between the Southern parts of the country to the Northeastern part.

According to Muhammad Zakari, from the press and public relations unit of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Said Alkali, minister of Transportation, was expected to flag off the commencement of the commercial services on the 62.0 kilometres of the Port-Harcourt to Aba corridor before the end of April.

He said the project was awarded by the Federal Ministry of Transportation to China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC) on October 16, 2020, with a completion timeline of 36 months.

Due to several technical and contractual issues, he said, the project commenced in March 2022.

“Also, the scope of the project covers the rehabilitation of the existing narrow gauge railway line, construction of new modern stations, and procurement of new modern rolling stock.

“This railway line will also link the ports of Onne, Bonny, and Port-Harcourt to facilitate the evacuation of goods and sundry freight through the Eastern corridor,” he said.

According to the contractual agreement, the Federal Government is to provide 15 percent of direct construction cost inclusive of land acquisition and Value Added Tax (VAT), while a bank loan through direct construction cost is to cover 85 percent of the project.

Zakari said facilitation of the bank loan is in progress and is expected to be concluded soon.

“Pending when the bank loan is finalised, the progress achieved on the project from inception in 2020 to the present date has been funded exclusively from the yearly budgetary allocation of the Federal Ministry of Transportation,” Zakari added.

The Federal Government believed that commencing operations along the completed section of the project aims to boost economic activities between the South-South and South-East regions of the country pending completion of the other sections of the project.

With the completion of the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt to Aba rail corridor, the Ministry pledged to continue to vigorously drive CCECC towards the speedy completion and delivery of the 181-kilometer Aba-Enugu stretch.

Also, the commencement of operations on this stretch of the project aligns with priority five of President Bola Tinubu’s Presidential Priority Areas which identifies ‘Enhanced Infrastructure and Transportation as Enablers of Growth,’ to the economy.