The importance of the Eastern railway project to Nigeria’s Economic growth has been emphasized. The Minister of transportation ,Rotimi Amaechi who spoke during the ground breaking ceremony of the Eastern rail project in Port Harcourt said outside the narrow guage, funds are being sought for a standard guage eastern railway.
“the need for a functional rail line on this Eastern corridor persists and remain compelling as 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”.
Speaking on the funding, the Minister said Nigeria is to contribute 15% of the funding for the rail project.
“While 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’.
President Muhammadu Buhari who presided over the ground breaking said the resuscitation of the railway in the Eastern part of the country is designed to link other standard guage lines under construction.
According to him, the socio-economic benefits of the project are enormous as it will not only enhance the national transport structure bit create massive employment locally.
“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 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 planned Integrated Development Masterplan”.
The MD CCECC congratulated Nigeria for the stride and outlined the benefits of the Eastern rail.
“The existing Eastern Railway Line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri is an important segment of the railway network in Nigeria. With a total length of approximately 1443 kilometers, the railway line runs through twelve states linking the oil rich south south to the commercial hubs in the south east and vast agricultural centers in the north central and north east. However, except for Port Harcourt to Aba line, most of the other lines on this route have been seriously vandalized or washed away. This railway’s potential to bring social-economic benefits cannot be realized”.
The flag off which was attended by dignataries including some state governors, was characterized by a rich array of cultural display.