Speech By President Buhari At The Groundbreaking Ceremony Of The Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway Project

SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY, MUHAMMADU BUHARI. PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA AT THE GROUNDBREAKING CEREMONY OF THE REHABILITATION AND RECONSTRUCTION OF PORT HARCOURT — MAIDUGURI EASTERN NARROW GAUGE RAILWAY PROJECT, BONNY DEEP SEA PORT AND RAILWAY INDUSTRIAL PARK, PORT HARCOURT, TUESDAY 9TH. MARCH. 2021

I am most delighted to address you on the occasion of the groundbreaking ceremony to mark the commencement of the implementation of another important national infrastructure which consists of three projects:

First is the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri narrow gauge railway reconstruction project with new branch lines to Owerri, Imo State and Damaturu, Yobe State.

The project is with the objective of resuscitating the once vibrant railway transportation in the Eastern railway corridor of the country, Port Harcourt — Maiduguri.

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 transshipment centers. The funding of the railway is through loan to fund 85% project cost and the Federal Government contribution of 15% as counterpart funding.

The second and the third projects are the Bonny deep sea port and a Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt that are to be constructed through direct investments by our Chinese partners and international financing agencies.

These projects will serve transportation and supply chain network for domestic needs and export as well as support imports into the hinterland of the country through the new deep sea port in Bonny Island, Rivers State.

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 endeavor, 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.

The country’s inspiration for nationwide transport infrastructure and railways is significantly enhanced by these three projects that were conceived to be integrated in their operations.

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 planned Integrated Development Masterplan.

I therefore urge 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 to join in raising Nigeria’s economy to the global stage and reaffirm our leading role in Africa.

I now have the honour to declare the groundbreaking for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Port Harcourt — Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway Project, Construction of the new Bonny Deep Sea Port and Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt and further request the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, to cut the tape and unveil the plaque on this day, 9th of March, 2021.

Thank you and God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria