The Federal Government has demonstrated its commitment in revitalising national infrastructure across the country with the flag off of the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri Eastern narrow gauge rail line, Bonny Deep Seaport and Railway Industrial Park in Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
The President who performed this virtually from the State House in Abuja said that the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri narrow gauge railway reconstruction project is with new branch lines to Owerri, Imo State and Damaturu, Yobe State, with the objective of resuscitating the once vibrant railway transportation in the Eastern railway corridor of the country.
The new Bonny Deep Seaport, and an Industrial park according to the President, will serve transportation and supply chain network for domestic needs and export as well as support imports into the hinterland of the country.
He further stated that in line with the global trends, the railway Industrial Park will have the capability for processing exports of raw materials with value addition and also export of locally made goods.
Speaking on some of the benefits of the projects, the President noted that they will improve trade and commerce, provide employment opportunities, expand the frontiers of economic advancement of the league of nations and reposition Nigeria in her rightful place as the giant of Africa.
He said: ” The sum of the socio-economic and environmental benefits of these projects includes: creation of massive employment locally, boost transhipment of cargo and freight locally across the West African Sub-region and the Continental Free Trade Area.”
“In addition, there will be further utilisation of local contents and transfer, increase in internally generated revenue and would serve as the fulcrum for the achievement of the Federal Government Integrated Master plan”.
He, therefore urged all Nigerians especially industrialists, manufacturers and businesses within the zones to take maximum advantage of the infrastructure in planning for expansion and building of new factories to boost Nigeria’s economy globally.
The Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuke Amaechi, in his welcome remarks stated that the Federal Ministry of Transportation is working in line with Mr. President’s directives, to implement the Nigeria Railway Modernization project and progressively expand the railway network, adding that the railway project is a part of the comprehensive plan for the revitalization, rehabilitation and expansion of the Nigerian Railway network to meet up with the transport infrastructure needs of the country.
According to Amaechi, the Eastern narrow gauge railway is one of the transport infrastructure established in the pre-independence period and it played significant role in the development of agriculture and industrial sectors in the colonial era and the statistics for this project are compelling in the supply chain for products and services such as petroleum products, iron and steel, minerals, livestock and poultry products availability.
On funding, the Minister disclosed that the railway project which is placed at USD3.2billion is to be co-financed by 85% loan from a syndicate of Chinese financiers with Federal Government contribution of 15%. The Bonny Deep Sea port and Railway Industrial park, Port Harcourt will be developed through direct investment (Build-Operate-Transfer) by the conglomerate led Messrs China Civil Enginering Construction Company (CCECC) Nigeria Limited, with a total investment portfolio of US$700Million.
Upon completion, Amaechi said “trains on the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway will run at 60 – 80 kilometers per hour Kph and 80 – 100 kilometers per hour Kph for freight and passenger respectively. The Bonny Deepsea port will have a container terminal of 500,000 TEU (20 foot equivalent unit) per annum capacity and 100,000 DWT (Deadweight tonnage) Berth. The Railway Industrial park, Port Harcourt would be supported by necessary infrastructure (Power, Water, Waste Disposal, ICT, Gas distribution), as well as transportation, logistics centers and ancillaries”.
Also speaking, the Managing Director, CCECC, Micheal Yigao gave the assurance that the company will provide safe and reliable transport system for the country.
Dignitaries present at the event included: the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, The Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong and the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.
Others were: the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, the Minister of Niger-Delta Affairs, Dr. Godswill Akpabio, Minister of Special Duties, Dr. George Akume, Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the the Board Chairman, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Engr. Ibrahim Alhassan, the Managing Director, NRC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria, the Managing Director, National Inland Waterways, Dr. Goerge Moghalu, former Managing Director, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside among others.
March 9, 2021