Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Railway; A Stimulus For Industry and Trade
President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated that the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway will not only translate to reactivation of economic activities along the Eastern corridor, which has been greatly affected by insurgent activities but would also serve as a stimulus for industry and trade.
He said this at the groundbreaking ceremony of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the 2,044km narrow gauge in Port-Harcourt, Rivers state.
The President in a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina said ‘‘the connection of the railway to a new seaport in Bonny Island and Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt is designed to increase the viability and boost trans-shipment of cargo and freight locally, across the West African sub-region and in the Continental Free Trade Area.
‘‘The sum of the socio-economic and environmental benefits of these projects includes creation of massive employment locally.
“A regional and international transport hub. 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.”
The President, who requested the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi to cut the tape and unveil the plaque for the projects on his behalf, assured the nation of prudent use of resources in executing the projects.
Amaechi noted that the railway project is to be co-financed with a loan from a syndicate of Chinese financiers totalling 85 per cent while the federal government will contribute 15 per cent of the project cost of $3.2bn. This is as the seaport and railway industrial pack are expected to cost up to $700m. The Minister added that on completion, trains on the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri rail corridor will run at 60 – 80 kilometres per hour and 80 – 100 kilometres per hour for freight and passenger respectively. The project when completed will transverse 13 states including Rivers, Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, and Imo states as well as the northern states of Kaduna, Plateau, Gombe, Bauchi, and Yobe among others.
With a total of 61 stations and passing loops, the project has a contract timeline of 36 months and is handled by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, CCECC.
The event was attended by Governors Mai Mala Buni and Simon Lalong of Yobe and Plateau states as well as Lai Mohammed, Godswill Akpabio, Ogbonnaya Onu, ministers of Information, Niger Delta Affairs and Science and Technology, respectively.