President Muhammadu Buhari has said the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt–Maiduguri railway will reactivate economic activities in the Eastern corridor, which has been greatly affected by insecurity.
The President spoke on Tuesday at the virtual ground-breaking ceremony of three projects: the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Port Harcourt–Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge railway project; Bonny Deep Sea Port on Bonny Island and Railway Industrial Park in Port Harcourt.
He said the country’s aspiration for nationwide transport infrastructure and railways would be significantly enhanced by the three projects.
“The connection of the railway to a new seaport on Bonny Island and Railway Industrial Park in 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.
“In addition, there will be further utilisation of local contents and technology transfer, increase in internally generated revenue (IGR) and would serve as a fulcrum for the achievement of Federal Government’s planned Integrated Development Masterplan,” President Buhari said.
Urging all Nigerians, especially industrialists, manufacturers and businesses within the zones to maximum the use of the infrastructure in planning for expansion and building new factories, the President said the projects, when completed, would raise Nigeria’s economy to the global stage and reaffirm the nation’s leading role in Africa.
President Buhari explained that the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri railway project – with new branch lines to Owerri, the Imo State capital, and Damaturu, the Yobe State capital – would resuscitate the once vibrant railway transportation in the Eastern corridor of the country.
“We are further expanding it to achieve contemporary demand for transport in the Northeast and the South.
“It is also designed to link other standard gauge rail lines under construction through the provision of trans-shipment centres.
“The funding of the railway is through a loan to fund 85 per cent project cost and the Federal Government contribution of 15 per cent as counterpart funding,” he said.
The President, who requested Transportation Minister 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 said the Bonny Deep Sea Port and Railway Industrial Park in Port Harcourt were being developed through direct investment by a conglomerate led by Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited with a total investment portfolio of US$700 million.
The minister said upon completion, the trains on the Port Harcourt–Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge will run at 60–80 kilometres per hour and 80–100 kilometres per hour for freight and passengers.