Eastern Narrow Gauge Rail: Project shows Buhari’s love for Niger Delta – Eze

March 11, 2021
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… Says Amaechi’s earned Thisday’s Minister of the decade award, administration’s ‘poster boy’ tag

… Describes Wike’s condemnation of project as sad, unfortunate and exhibition of lack of knowledge of what development means

Following the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Port HarcourtMaiduguri (Eastern Rail) line, Bonny Deep Seaport and a Railway Industrial Park in Port Harcourt, which has confirmed commitment on the part of the Nigerian government towards harnessing and exploring the litany of economic potentials littered across the Southern regions of the country, analysts have opined that the city of Port Harcourt may have just been projected as an emerging economic hub of the West African region, given the huge economic yields the projects portends for the region and the country at large.

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Describing the Eastern rail project as a catalyst for industrialization and trans regional development, Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP), Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze, said President Mohammadu Buhari, has honoured the terms of his social contract with the Nigerian people.

In a statement made available to media houses, Chief Eze said the importance of modern rail project is not measured merely by the safety and comfort it affords commuters and the convenience it offers operators of commercial merchandise in the movement of cargoes, but also the huge economic returns it injects into the national treasury.

The party Chief said with the Bonny Deep Seaport, Railway Industrial Park and especially, the recent approval of 6 Billion for the provision of portable water for the people of Ogoni, Rivers State, whose environment have been devastated by oil exploration activities, President Buhari, has nothing else to prove that he is a true son of Niger Delta.

Recalling how the projects suffered bureaucratic rep tapes orchestrated by corrupt officials of the former PDP-led federal government who delight in obstructing the expedition of what ought to be a simple procedure, Chief Eze said the Ogoni clean up exercise and the Eastern railway project were almost irretrievably mired in the bottlenecks of heart-wrenching bureaucracies which served as a breeding ground for large scale corruption in the country.

The party chief said the projects has further attested to the fact that the Honorable Minister of Transportation, Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi CON., is not only a man of honour with proven integrity, but a rare breed statesman, stocked with the requisite ingredients for a national rebirth.

According to the APC stalwart, the railway modernisation scheme, an initiative of the Mohammadu Buhari led administration is yielding very significant and massively unprecedented results in key project delivery to the pride of commuters and citizens alike.

At the ground breaking ceremony which was done virtually, Tuesday 9 March, 2021 in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, President Buhari in response to Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State who condemned the projects describing them of no value to Rivers State and her people 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.

‘In addition, there will be further  utilization of local contents and technology transfer, increase in internally generated revenue and would serve as a fulcrum for the achievement of the Federal Government planned Integrated Development Masterplan,’’ Mr. President further highlighted.

Urging all Nigerians especially industrialists, manufacturers and businesses within the zones to take maximum advantage of this infrastructure in planning for expansion and building new factories, President Buhari said the projects  when completed  would raise Nigeria’s economy to the global stage while reaffirming its leading role in Africa.

‘‘We are further expanding it to achieve contemporary demand for transport in the North East and Southern geopolitical zones of the country.

‘‘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 loan to fund 85% project cost and the Federal Government contribution of 15% as counterpart funding,’’ he said.

‘‘This improved port is designed to be 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.

‘‘In planning this project, prudent use of resources has been given priority, as by this endeavour, Nigeria will retrieve the old narrow gauge that has been lying in neglect for years and bring it to full functional state commensurate to a National railway service at a rational price,’’ he said.

Earlier in his address, Transportation Minister, Rt. Hon. Amaechi disclosed that the Bonny deep sea port and Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt are being developed through direct investment by a conglomerate led by Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited with a total investment portfolio of US$700Million.

On the railway, Amaechi said upon completion, trains on the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway will run at 60 – 80 kilometres per hour and 80 – 100 kilometres per hour for freight and passenger respectively.

‘‘The Bonny deep sea port has 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 including power, water, waste disposal, ICT and gas distribution as well as transportation, logistics centres and ancillaries,’’ he said.

Rt. Hon. Amaechi affirmed that the Ministry was working in line with the President’s directives to implement the Nigeria Railway Modernization project and progressively expand the railway network.

‘‘In this regard, the rail line connection from Enugu to Awka – Onitsha and Abakaliki is undergoing necessary Feasibility Studies and preparation of conceptual design,’’ Minister Amaechi said.

Chief Eze said the ground breaking event is significant and unique, as it sterns the bad-mouths of critics who have concluded that the projects will never be feasible, because according to them, Amaechi is more concerned about developments in the west and North than the region he came from.

Outlining the work being

done in connecting the country for ease of transportation of

products, goods and people, Chief Eze said Amaechi was reported as saying that the Eastern rail line would be connected to the Western line via Kafanchan, while the Warri-Itakpe line would be connected to the same line via Abuja and onwards to KadunaKano line.

Eze went further to highlight that with the formal commencement of Abuja to Kaduna, Lagos to Ibadan, Warri to Okpata rail line, the recent flag-off of Kano-Katsina-Jibya-Maradi, with a branch line to  Dutse, and now Port Harcourt – Maiduguri, the Calabar-Lagos Rail line will soon commence.

He said Amaechi has justified ThisDay Award conferment on him as Minister of the Decade and PosterBoy of this dispensation, stressing that Nigerians need not search any further for a 2023 Presidential Material.

Lauding the Muhammadu Buhari led federal government for the special blend of impressive and stunning catalogue of steady achievements it has continued to record in the rail sub-sector of the Transportation sector, headed by the Minister of the decade and Nigeria’s pride, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi CON., whose approach to public service is the yearn and ultimate desire of proponents of a new, prosperous, virile Nigeria, Chief Eze said Nigeria has joined the league of nations with the best rail networks in the world.

Similarly, the party Chief emphatically stressed that commencement of operations at the Abuja-Kaduna rail line; the first to be completed under the Standard Gauge Railway Modernisation Project (SGRMP),  undertaken in Nigeria with the motive of replacing existing narrow gauge system with the wider standard gauge system, while allowing high speed train operations on the railway network, has continued to win encomium for the APC led government.

He said the 186km rail project, also initiated and abandoned by the former PDP government, connects the capital city of Abuja with the commercial city of Kaduna and has over 30 railway bridges, including 5 box bridges built with precast T-beams, stressing that the project has, since its commencement, a few years back, significantly improved the speed of movement of humans and goods to and fro the two metropolis with thousands of Nigerians under its employ.

Similarly, the party stalwart hailed President Buhari and the Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Amaechi, for the timely completion of the 312km-long Lagos – Ibadan rail line. The double track standard gauge system constructed by CCECC is the first phase of a new 2,733km Lagos-Kano standard gauge line and is the first of its kind in the whole of the African continent.

Commenting on the success of the Warri-Itakpe rail line, Eze said the record of ports development in Nigeria under Buhari and the supervision of Amaechi is trailblazing and exceeds the aggregate achievements of past governments.

The Warri-Itakpe Standard gauge line connects the port city of Warri-Itakpe and has since inauguration, sparked a massive and speedy rural and economic development across.

Thousands of kilometers of rail lines are being built and many are undergoing revamp in a bid to connecting cities and towns for a safer and secured transportation of human and goods to and fro different parts of the country, creating jobs, generating revenue and improving the national economy.

Other standard gauge line projects in the pipeline include the 300km Lagos-Benin City, 500km Benin-Abakiliki, 670km Benin-Obudu Cattle Ranch, 615km Lagos-Abuja high speed, 520km Zaria – Birnin Koni, 533km Ega nyi -Otukpo. Other scheduled projects are – the Ogoja-Maiduguri, Kano-Gamboru Ngala, Kano-Jibia as well as the Ilela-Minna rail lines.

Recently, Rt. Hon. Amaechi, reeled out the President Mohammadu Buhari’s Economic Development plan in the Transportation sector which he described as cardinal to the unlocking of the country’s economic potentials.

Furthermore, Eze commended the Minister for placing enough emphasis on the link between transportation and education, stressing that his foresight has attracted another university which he described as a plus to the country’s human capacity development blueprint.

Recall that the Minister recently announced that the construction giant – Mota Engil, the Portuguese Company in charge of the Kano-Maradi rail line will build a multi-disciplinary University in Rivers State as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility to the country and this will be in addition to the one already ongoing in Katsina State.

Eze expresses happiness with what Amaechi has achieved as the Chairman or Coordinator of the Nigerian Speakers Forum and one time time Chairman or Coordinator of Nigerian Governors Forum, midwifing the ouster of PDP from the centre when he led some PDP Governors, Senators, House of Reps and other great Nigerians to energise APC into winning the 2015 Presidential election. Apart from all these feats, this patriotic leader of our time spearheaded back to back the Victory of APC during the 2015 and 2019 general elections the first of such a feat in any country in Africa for a single fellow to coordinate the Presidential Campaign of his party to victory on both occasions.

Today, he is accepted by Nigerians as not only the most outstanding Minister, but the Most outstanding Minister for a decade. This is a feat never won by any Nigerian in the annals of the history of this country.

Chief Eze who expressed sympathy for his dear good friend, Governor Nyesom Wike for his lack of knowledge for this gigantic move aimed at industrialising Rivers State highlighted that Governor Wike may have condemned these projects out of a panicky state of mind knowing very well that these projects when implemented may commence the ouster of his visionless PDP led Government in Rivers State after collaborating with the past PDP government at the centre in which he  served as a Minister for refusing to site any legacy project in the entire South South region throughout its six years of leadership of this country

In this regard, Eze pleads with Nigerians not to be too harsh on Wike for condemning the commencement of these projects but sympathise with him as the fear of his reign of maladminstration in Rivers State will soon come to an end for a purposeful and visionary Government that will restore back the golden life of Rivers State and her people is telling on him so much

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