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Buhari inaugurates Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Nigeria’s first standard gauge rail

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday inaugurated the 326km Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line for commercial operation and directed the Ministry of Transportation to ensure that all the nation’s ports are linked to the rail line.
He listed the ports to be linked to the rail network as Apapa, Tin Can, Warri, Onne and Calabar ports.
He also directed that the Itakpe-Warri rail line should be extended to the northern region of the country before the expiration of his tenure in 2023.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed these in a statement titled “After 30 years in limbo, President Buhari inaugurated 326Km Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line for commercial operation.”

“At the virtual opening of the rail line linking Itakpe to Warri, President Buhari directed the Federal Ministry of Transportation to link all the nation’s ports of origin and destination – Apapa, Tin Can, Warri, Onne, Calabar Ports- to the rail network in order to significantly improve overall transportation and economic capacities.

“The President declared that his administration recognised the importance of the railway mode of transportation as a vital backbone to support industrialisation and economic development,” the statement read.
The President also said, “Accordingly, I have approved the prioritisation of viable railway routes for either new rail lines or the reconstruction and rehabilitation of some, to achieve effective and efficient train services supporting the country’s trade and commerce.

“The railway Infrastructure that I have the honour to commission today is the rail line from Itakpe via the steel town complex of Ajaokuta to Warri, and is an important link for the country’s economy as the central rail line.
“This government has also approved to link this line further from Itakpe to Abuja, thereby, connecting the northern zone of the country and also extending southwards to link the Warri ports.”
According to the statement, the President expressed confidence that the project, which serves as a vital link of South-South geopolitical zones of the country to the northern zones, would be completed during the tenure of this administration.

”It will link people across the cultural divides and expand the frontier of trade and commerce, which will lead to better standards of living for our citizens,” he said.

Buhari urged operators in the transportation industry, especially the railway subsector, to continue to support government in its stride to achieve other railway infrastructure projects.

He said, ”I implore those who work on this line to uphold maintenance and safety culture necessary for long-lasting service in this difficult terrain.

”By the same token, I urge other sectors who will be primary beneficiaries of this transportation backbone, including, the iron and steel sector, stakeholders in agricultural and mining sectors on this corridor, as well as the host communities to protect and sustain this infrastructure and maximize the benefits that could be derived from it and which is readily available at their doorsteps.

”This project will increase the volume of their trade and kick-start and resuscitate the iron and steel complexes.

”All these, I hope will improve our industrial potentials and capacities as well as boost employment,’’ he said.

Buhari said the new rail line was expected to move about one million passengers annually and 3.5 million tonnes capacity of freight.

He congratulated the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and his team. on successfully completing the project.
He also commended the host communities for their cooperation during the completion work by the Federal Government.
He said that his administration would continue to judiciously connect commercial and industrial hubs to boost trade, generate wealth and create employment.

Railway

Police still on trail of Warri-Itakpe rail track vandals – NRC

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• Says vandals risk life imprisonment
Vandals of a section of the newly inaugurated Warri-Itakpe rail track have not been arrested, contrary to an earlier report, the Nigerian Railway Corporation has said.
Coordinator of the new rail line operation, Abdulganniyu Saani, an engineer, who stated this, also dismissed the viral video of the arrest of five suspects with a vehicle load of rail track sleepers, saying it was an old clip of an incident around Jos, Plateau State taken some years back.
He also said the latest cutting of Warri-Itakpe track material was not on the main lane but an extra lane, which had not disrupted the running of freight and passenger trains.
Saani spoke in an interview with NewsTrends on the telephone, warning that vandals would be treated as manslaughter suspects with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment upon conviction because their activities could lead to fatal railway accidents.
He also said that a number of traps had been laid for the arrest of the vandals still on the run and other hoodlums that might be contemplating of vandalizing or stealing railway materials.
“The police in Kogi State where the incident had happened are on the red alert. They are working with other security agencies to apprehend the vandals and anybody who dares tamper with railway materials.
Details later…

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Five arrested for destroying, stealing new Warri-Itakpe rail track

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Seven months after inauguration, vandals have destroyed the Warri-Itakpe rail track, cutting the rail sleepers and carting the materials away.
Already, the police have arrested five men in Delta State in connection with the vandalisation and stealing of the rail track materials.
The suspected vandals were said to have cut several sections of the track around Kilometre 30, Adogo (Kogi State) section of the rail line.
Officials of the Nigerian Railway Corporation reportedly discovered the vandalisation two days ago.
The rail line was inaugurated by the President Muhammadu Buhari in September 2020 after about three decades of starting the project.
It is a standard gauge railway connecting the port city of Warri to the inland town of Itakpe initially meant to supply the Ajaokuta Steel Mill with iron ore and coal. But after a protracted construction period of more than 30 years, the 51km railway was finally inaugurated last year as a mixed freight and passenger line.
The project was completed by Julius Berger, and was extended from Ajaokuta to Warri (Aladja Steel Plant and Jetty) for the transportation of passengers along Itakpe-Warri corridor in addition to the original concept of freight movement service for the steel industry.

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Mexico rail overpass collapses, kills 23

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At least 23 people have died and 65 injured others hospitalised after a railway overpass and train collapsed onto a busy road in Mexico City on Monday night, crushing cars under fallen carriages and rubble.

Reuters reported that the authorities halted rescue efforts shortly after they began, saying there was a risk that more train parts and debris could come down onto the road.

A video on local channel Milenio TV showed the structure plummeting onto a stream of cars near the Olivos station in the southeast of the city at around 10.30pm local time, sending up clouds of dust.

At least two train carriages precariously hung from the damaged overpass. Initial rescue efforts saw medical and fire crews trying to access the carriages. The army was also in attendance.

Speaking to reporters at the site, Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said it appeared a girder had given way on the overpass but the cause was being investigated.

She said the rescue had been suspended as the structure was very weak.

A crane was said to be working to stabilise the train carriages so rescuers could resume their search for survivors.

The authorities were working to identify the dead, which included children, Sheinbaum said.

One person trapped in their car underneath the wreckage had been rescued alive and was taken to hospital.

Seven of the people transported to hospital were in a “grave condition” and undergoing surgery, she said.

The Metro 12 line that runs over the collapsed overpass was built almost a decade ago when Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard was mayor of Mexico City.

“What happened today with the Metro is a terrible tragedy. My solidarity is with the victims and their families,” Ebrard said on Twitter, adding, “Of course, the causes must be investigated and responsibilities defined.”

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