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.
Just in: Nigerian railway postpones resumption of Abuja-Kaduna train indefinitely
The Nigerian Railway Corporation has postponed indefinitely the resumption of its suspended Abuja-Kaduna train service, following public outcry against the initial decision to return to operation next Monday May 23.
The service was suspended after terrorists on March 28 attacked a passenger train on that route, near Kaduna, killing eight people and abducting over 60 passengers, most of who are still in captivity.
The NRC had earlier in the week said the Federal Government had approved that train service should resume next Monday while efforts are being intensified to secure the release of those still held captive.
But relatives of the abducted by train passengers kicked against this, vowing to obstruct any train operation on the route without the release of their loved ones. Some option leaders also called on the government to rescind its decision to resume the train service.
A statement by the NRC Deputy Director Public Relations, Mahmoud Yakubu, on Friday evening announced a shift in the resumption date of the Abuja-Kaduna train and apologised for this.
It also said, “A new date will be announced soonest. The NRC will continue to cooperate and collaborate with the Federal Government in its uncompromising mandate of protecting the territorial integrity and the internal security of Nigeria for safeguarding the lives and properties of its citizens especially as it concerns the rail subsector.”
The corporation identified with relatives of those in captivity after the last train attack, adding that actions were being taken to secure their safe release.
It stated, “The Federal Government is alive to its
responsibility for the safe rescue of all persons being held hostage. We therefore appeal, particularly to the relatives of persons held hostage to be patient and cooperate with the corporation and the security agencies.”
Just in: Abuja-Kaduna train service resumes Monday May 23, says NRC
The Nigerian Railway Corporation says Abuja-Kaduna train service will resume next Monday, May 23, 2022 about six weeks after its operations were disrupted by terrorists.
The train service was suspended after the terrorists’ attack, leading to the death of eight passengers and abduction of over 60 people, many of them still in captivity.
The NRC in a statement on Monday evening by its spokesman, Mahmoud Yakub, said the Federal Government had directed the resumption of the Abuja-Kaduna train service.
“The passenger train service between Abuja-Kaduna is to commence on Monday 23rd May, 2022,” the statement said.
Relatives of abducted train passengers had warned the Federal Government not to resume the train operations until those held captive were safely released and reunited with their families.
The NRC added in the statement that additional security measures were being put in place at both the train stations and on the track to ensure the safety of the passengers onboard.
“These measures are not only for the Abuja-Kaduna Train Service (AKTS) but also for all the passenger train services especially on the standard gauge railway lines,” it stated.
Meanwhile, the NRC said concerted joint efforts to secure the safe release of the abducted passengers being held hostage by the terrorists would continue “out of the public domain for strategic security reasons”.
It stated that the government wishes to assure the relatives of the abducted citizens still in captivity that the safe rescue of these passengers is a top priority and not to misconstrue the resumption of train services, as abandonment or nonchalant attitude of the government towards their plight. The federal government will never abdicate its responsibility in rescuing these valuable citizens, however, the government assures of its resolve not to succumb to threats by any faceless group.
Army sergeant, 13 others arrested with three truckloads of rail track materials
The police have arrested 14 suspects, including a serving Army sergeant, in connection with the vandalisation and stealing of rail track materials in different parts of the country.
Three trucks loaded with railway slippers, steel and clips were recovered from the suspects, according to the Railway Police Command of the Nigeria Police Force.
The arrest involving the sergeant, Sirajo Suleiman, who works with the Nigerian Army Central Ammunition Department, Kaduna, was made on April 27, 2022, by the Kafanchan divisional headquarters of the command, alongside six other suspects.
They were alleged to loaded multiple rail sheets of steel into two trucks in a bush near Camuru Station in the Katchia Local Government Area of the state when the policemen swooped on them.
The names of other suspected vandals were given as Idris Bawa, Idris Musa, Shamsu Abdulahi, Anthony Moses and Yunana Gaius.
Three weeks earlier, the Kafanchan Railway Police Division of the command, reportedly intercepted a truck fully loaded with railway slippers along Bankin-Kaninkon-Kogi road.
The suspected vandals were said to have fled the scene abandoning the truck on sighting the police.
During the investigation, one Ahmed Tanko, who resides in Dangoma Village Jam ‘A Local Government Area of Kaduna State was arrested and reportedly confessed to the crime.
Efforts according to the Commissioner of Police, Railway Police Command headquarters, CP Yetunde Longe, who confirmed both cases, were being intensified to apprehend his fleeing accomplices.
She disclosed that three other suspects, Abdukarim Haruna, Hassan Dahiru and Bashir Mumuhamed, were also apprehended by the Kano Division of the Railway Command, with the recovery of 51 railway slippers, 26 rail sheets of steel and several quantities of destroyed rail iron rods and slippers.
Also in Oyo State, she said the Dugbe Railway Police Division, Ibadan, arrested “an O’ War official identified as Azeez Wahab with a BAGCO bag containing 50 NRC tool bolts without a satisfactory account of how he found them.
“Similarly, the Offa Division of the Railway Command, Kwara State, also arrested one Ibukun of Railway Mechanical Department (Diesel Maintenance Section) for vandalism and stealing aluminium in one of the unused coaches within the train station premises; while the Minna divisional headquarters also arrested one Aliyu for vandalizing railway clips in Minna, Niger State,” she stated.
“In another development, the Bodija Divisional Headquarters of the Railway Command in Ibadan arrested a 20-year-old armed robbery suspect identified as Abdulahi Fatai aka ‘Akube’.
“Investigations revealed that the case is connected to that of another armed robbery suspect who was earlier arrested in December 2021, while going for an operation”.
She, therefore, warned criminal elements to desist from vandalizing government properties, especially the railways, threatening that anyone caught would be dealt with to the full extent of the law.
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