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Buhari: Why we’re connecting PH-Maiduguri rail to Bonny port, railway park



President Muhammadu Buhari says the connection of the Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri eastern narrow gauge rail line to a new deep seaport in Bonny Island and Railway Industrial Park in Port Harcourt is meant to increase the viability of the line and boost transshipment of cargo and freight locally, across West Africa nations as well as the Continental Free Trade Area.

He stated this on Tuesday at the groundbreaking ceremony of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the 2,044km narrow gauge in Port-Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

President Buhari, who pPresided over the event virtually from the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the corridor would have new branch lines in Owerri and Damaturu, capitals of Imo and Yobe states respectively. He said, “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.

“The project is with the objective of resuscitating the once vibrant railway transportation in the Eastern railway corridor of the country.

“We are further expanding it to achieve contemporary demand for transport in the North East and Southern geopolitical zones of the country.”

The President also the project was designed “to link other standard gauge rail lines under construction through the provision of transshipment centres.”

According to him, the funding of the project is through a Chinese government loan of 85 per cent cost and the Federal Government’s contribution of 15 per cent as counterpart funding.

“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,” he said.

The President, who stated that the port was designed to be a regional and international transport hub, noted, “The Railway Industrial Park will have the capability for processing exports of raw materials with value addition and export of locally made goods.”

He said, “In planning this project, prudent use of resources has been given priority, as, by this endeavour, Nigeria will retrieve the old narrow gauge that has been lying in neglect for years and bring it to fully 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 into 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.

“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.”

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, described the project as 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 effort of government at the rehabilitation of this rail line in 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, remains unserviceable.

“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 the high cost and affecting the manufacturing and agro-allied industries.”

Amaechi said that the railway project would be co-financed with a loan from a syndicate of Chinese financiers totalling 85 per cent while the Federal Government would contribute 15 per cent of the project cost of $3.2bn.

According to him, the seaport and railway industrial park are expected to cost up to $700m.

The minister added that on completion, trains on the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri rail corridor would run at 60 – 80km per hour and 80 – 100km per hour for freight and passenger respectively.

The project when completed would transverse 13 states comprising Rivers, Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, and Imo states as well as the northern states of Kaduna, Plateau, Gombe, Bauchi and Yobe among others.

In his goodwill message, Plateau state governor and chairman, Northern Governors’ Forum, Simon Lalong, expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari, noting the rail line “will cover not only the North but major parts of the country.”

Minister of Labour and Employment, DrChris Ngige, wondered why ‘narrow’ was being used to describe the project, saying, “Some people say it is narrow. It is not narrow because it will take me to my village.”

Managing Director, China Civil Engineering Construction Company, CCECC, Jason Zhang, pledged the readiness of the company to deliver the project on or before the completion timeline of 36 months.

The event was attended by Governor Mai Mala Buni of Yobe and as well as Lai Mohammed, Godswill Akpabio, Ogbonnaya Onu, ministers of Information, Niger Delta Affairs and Science and Technology, respectively.



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



• 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



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



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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