President Muhammadu Buhari says the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line will revive the once-vibrant eastern railway corridor.
Speaking at the virtual ground-breaking ceremony of three projects; the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Port Harcourt-Maiduguri eastern narrow gauge railway project, Bonny deep seaport and railway industrial park in Port Harcourt.
In a statement by Femi Adesina, special adviser on media and publicity to the president, Buhari said the country’s aspiration for nationwide transport infrastructure and railways would be significantly enhanced by these three projects.
He noted that the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri railway reconstruction project with new branch lines to Owerri, Imo state and Damaturu, Yobe state will raise the country’s economy to the world stage.
“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,” Buhari said.
“The sum of the socio-economic and environmental benefits of these projects includes the creation of massive employment locally.
“In addition, there will be further utilisation 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 funding of the railway is through a loan to fund 85% project cost and the federal government contribution of 15% as counterpart funding.”
He also said the Bonny deep seaport and the railway industrial park are to be constructed through direct investments from Chinese partners and international financing agencies.
Buhari further urged industrialists, manufacturers and businesses to take advantage of the infrastructure in planning for expansion and building new factories as the project when completed.
In his remarks, Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation said the three projects are being developed through direct investment by China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) Nigeria Limited with a total investment portfolio of $700 million.
He added that upon completion, trains on the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line will run at 60-80 kilometres per hour and 80-100 kilometres per hour for freight and passenger respectively.