Decades after the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri eastern railway corridor went moribund, federal government on Tuesday revived the 2044.1km railway corridor, expected to cost $3.2bn, or around N1.2 trillion.
The project is being funded 85 per cent by the China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC) while the Federal Government makes 15 per cent counterpart fund.
President Muhammadu Buhari virtually performed the ground breaking of the project with new extensions and facilities including the construction of Bonny Deepsea Port and Railway Industrial park in Port Harcourt.
The President said the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri railway will translate to reactivation of economic activities along the Eastern corridor, which has been greatly affected by insurgent activities and serve as a stimulus for industry and trade.
“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 transshipment 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 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’s planned Integrated Development Masterplan,” he said.
Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi explained that 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 Deep seaport and Railway Industrial park, Port Harcourt, he said, “are being developed through direct investment by the conglomerate led Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited with a total investment portfolio of US$700Million.”
He said, “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.
“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 centres and ancillaries.”
The Minister also explained that the 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.
“In this regard, the rail line connection from Enugu to Awka – Onitsha and Abakaliki is undergoing necessary Feasibility Studies and preparation of conceptual design.
“Mr. President, the administration is achieving the resuscitation of our railway system through your consistent and concerted intervention and effort,” he added.