The Federal Government on Tuesday flagged off the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway project with new extensions and facilities, and the construction Bonny Deepsea Port and Railway Industrial park which will cost about US$700M.
Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi made this known while speaking at the ground breaking ceremony of the Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway project and the construction of Bonny Deepsea Port and Railway Industrial park in Port Harcourt which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the Minister, the railway project is to be co-financed by loan from a syndicate of Chinese financiers with Federal Government contribution of 15% project cost.
“The Bonny Deepsea port and Railway Industrial park, Port Harcourt are being developed through direct investment by the conglomerate led Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited with a total investment portfolio of US$700Million. This investment gain can be attributed to the unrelenting effort of the Ministry,” he added.
Ameachi stated 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, thus the need for a functional rail line on the Eastern corridor as it persists and remain compelling for the supply chain for products and services on this corridor vanishes and articles and items such as petroleum products, iron and steel, minerals, livestock and poultry products availability were reduced giving rise to high cost and affecting the manufacturing and agro-allied industries.
The Federal Government therefore focused on its revival, the Minister said.
The projects upon completion, 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 while the Bonny Deepsea port 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, in this regard, the rail line connection from Enugu to Awka – Onitsha and Abakaliki is undergoing necessary Feasibility Studies and preparation of conceptual design.
Recalled that The Eastern narrow gauge railway is one of the transport infrastructure established in the pre-independence period and played significant role in the development of agriculture and industrial sectors in the colonial era and immediate post-independence year up till 1985, when it became unfit for purpose as a result of the general neglect and divestment suffered by the Nigerian railways.
The effort of Government at rehabilitation of this rail line in year 2009 – 2012, did not achieve the desired outcome, partly due to inadequate funding and incompetence of some of the Contractors employed. The rail line therefore, remain unserviceable.