FG decries slow pace of work on Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway

The Minister of Transportation, Sen. Saidu Alkali, has expressed disappointment over the slow pace of work on the reconstruction of the Eastern Railway Corridor by the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) Ltd.

The minister made his feelings known on Friday when he inspected the progress of work on the reconstruction of the corridor to Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.

Alkali expressed sadness that between Port-Harcourt and Aba Section, only a 47 per cent completion stage had been achieved, instead of achieving 47 per cent completion of the entire stretch from Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri.

“If you cannot complete Port-Harcourt to Aba, which is 63km in 12 months, how would you be able to complete over 2000km in 36 months?” He asked.

He expressed dismay at the use of manual alignment processes by the CCECC in laying the track in the 21st Century.

According to him, in a project that is 85 per cent funded by the Chinese and 15 per cent by the Federal Government, it is only the 15 per cent fund provision by the Federal Government that financed the project so far.

The minister said that he would go back to the ministry to look at what was doable within the ambit of the law and enforce it.

Alkali, however, identified one of the striking benefits to be the linking up of the two Sea Ports in Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri and the promotion of regional trading at a highly reduced cost.

The minister assured the people of the zone that by the time the passenger train services commenced, it would go a long way in cushioning the effect of the petroleum subsidy removal on Nigerians who would use the train services.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on March 10, 2021, the Federal Government began the $3 billion repair and reconstruction of the 1,443-kilometre Eastern Railway Line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.

When completed, it will link Rivers, Abia, Imo, Enugu, Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe and Borneo States.