As MD NRC Says Commercial Operation to Begin Next Week
Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
As President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday commissioned the Itakpe-Ajaokuta- Warri rail line and the Railway Ancillary Facility Yard for Commercial Operation, the Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi has revealed that the project was met in a state of decay.
“The entire project in 2015 was met in a state of decay, abandoned with the entire infrastructure moribund”, said Ameachi during the Commissioning in Owa-Oyibu, Delta State on Tuesday.
The Minister noted that the project that was being celebrated and commissioned started in 1987 during the Military era but underwent protracted hiccups and prolonged abandonment which attest to more than three decades of investment, hope and despair, adding that the project, with a passion to realize for Nigeria, an effective and efficient transportation especially, the railways, was resuscitated by this administration.
According to him, “Historically, this project conceived 33 years ago, started with the linkage of Itakpe Iron Ore Mines with Ajaokuta Steel Mill and extended to Aladja, Warri in the South-South zone of the Country by the contract awarded in 1991 for the extension.
“The project Suffered a lot of setbacks even as the Government was giving out the railway as a collateral element in the iron ore mining and steel plants concession agreement.
“The project was however transferred from Federal Ministry of Mines and Power in June 1996 as a result of Government decision to transform the Itakpe- Ajaokuta-Warri Railway to the Nigeria Railway Central line and assigned it a multifunctional role to provide freight movement services to industries in the corridor including agricultural, manufacturing and mining as well as cover passenger services”, he said.
Furthermore, Amaechi noted that at the collapse of the Iron and Steel industry concession agreement, the railway suffered neglect and experienced massive vandalization of its infrastructure as well as abandonment of construction activities on its ancillary including the one being commissioned today.
“With the priority attached to the provision of railway infrastructure by Mr. President and in readiness to complete this project, the Federal Government in August, 2017 approved the contract for the reconstruction of the 54 Kilometer of the Itakpe-Ajaokuta section of the rail line, construction of 12 ultra modern station buildings as well as intermodal bus terminal in Itakpe Station was awarded to Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited.
“Also, the construction of siding tracks to service the buildings in the Ancillary Yard including locomotive workshop, Rolling stock depot, maintenance workshop, fueling depot, goods platform in this facility yard was awarded to the contractor. The Government also approved the completion of other structures including admin block, communication towers, medical bay, quarters for workers, within this railway ancillary facilities yard to Messrs. Julius Berger Nigeria Plc.
“Today, we are looking at a brand new, modern, fully fitted functional railway of 326 Km single track standard gauge railway line”, he remarked.
He further stated that his Ministry is working in line with the President’s directives regarding the prioritized railway lines and concluding negotiation to realize the extension of the rail line to Warri port and Northward to Abuja and also working on other new lines connecting the State Capitals including commercial and administrative centers.
Speaking to The Sight News, the Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) Fidet Okhiria noted that they hope to start commercial operations Monday next week when the other two locomotives arrive.
“We hope to start next week when the other two Locomotives from Orega arrives”, he said.
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