Address By Minister Of Transport At The Groundbreaking Ceremony of Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway Project

WELCOME ADDRESS BY THE HON. MINISTER OF TRANSPORT, RT. HON. CHIBUIKE ROTIMI AMAECHI, CON, AT THE OCCASION OF GROUNDBREAKING OF REHABILITATION & RECONSTRUCTION OF THE EASTERN NARROW GAUGE RAILWAY PROJECT, BONNY DEEPSEA PORT AND RAILWAY INDUSTRIAL PARK, PORT HARCOURT

I have the honour and privilege to welcome your Excellencies, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen to this remarkable occasion. The groundbreaking ceremony of the Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway project with new extensions and facilities, the construction of Bonny Deepsea Port and Railway Industrial park in Port Harcourt which is being presided over by the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, today March 9, 2021.

This Railway project is a part of the comprehensive plan for the revitalization, rehabilitation and expansion of the Nigerian Railway network to meet up with the transport infrastructure needs of the country. The Eastern narrow gauge railway is one of the transport infrastructure established in the pre-independence period and played significant role in the development of agriculture and industrial sectors in the colonial era and immediate post-independence year up till 1985, when it became unfit for purpose as a result of the general neglect and divestment suffered by the Nigerian railways.

The effort of Government at rehabilitation of this rail line in year 2009 — 2012, did not achieve the desired outcome, partly due to inadequate funding and incompetence of some of the Contractors employed. The rail line therefore, remain unserviceable.

Your Excellencies, Royal Highness, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, 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.

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.

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 centers and ancillaries.

The Federal 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. The Ministry remain committed to your vision for a strong and sustainable railway transportation backbone to engender and facilitate a new path to positive economic transformation of the country.

Mr President, your Excellencies, members of the Federal and State House of Assembly, members of the Federal Executive Council here present, Your Majesties Royal fathers, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I welcome you all.