He said train services would commence in a few months as soon as the finishing touches are completed on the tracks.

NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA • JANUARY 10, 2024

The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) Headquarters

The Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) Headquarters

The federal government announced on Wednesday that it had completed the 63-kilometre Port Harcourt-Aba railway project.

The Port Harcourt-Aba project is part of the larger Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railroad project initiated by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Fidet Okhiria, managing director of Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), revealed this information while leading a delegation to inspect the project.

He said train services would commence in a few months as soon as the finishing touches are completed on the tracks.

“The project from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri is not yet completed. They (contractors) are working in phases, and they have laid tracks up to Aba.

“We are so anxious to commence operation, therefore, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, directed us to come and inspect the project so that we can plan ahead of the operations.

“We inspected from Port Harcourt to Aba, and we can confirm the main tracks have reached Aba in Abia,” he said.

Mr Okhiria said that the contractors were still installing loops and sidelines so that rail services could start immediately.

“As we speak, you can put a locomotive on the track to Aba, but that will not be good enough for commercial purposes, hence, we are working hard to resume operations.

“We are looking to start operations within months, and we have drawn a timeline. If we don’t start running on the track, it will go bad, and vandals will take possession.

“We are going to meet and work out possible plan; so very soon, Port Harcourt-Aba train services will start,” he added.

Mr Okhiria warned against vandalising the rail tracks so as to allow the people to directly benefit from the project.

According to him, the NRC has finalised plans to renovate its existing wagons to run alongside the new ones being expected.

“Two wagons were awarded consisting of both narrow and standard gauge, but we will not wait for them to arrive, we are starting something soon.

“We plan to start something very soon so that people will not be able to differentiate between the old functioning ones and the new ones.

“Rolling stock has a lifespan of 30 years, hence, we will make sure that we refurbish them and make them attractive for people to use,” he said.

The managing director assured that the federal government would complete the laying of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail tracks within three years.

Comment:

Some progress on the eastern front to report for a change!! Whereas this amounts to only about 5% of PH-Maiduguri by distance while about 30% of the project duration has now elapsed. At this rate, it will take more than 3 more years to complete the narrow gauge rehabilitation and reconstruction project, and that assumes funding is no longer at issue. Nevertheless, hope we have enough change left of our 15% counterpart funding to get us to Enugu at least as we should. Operations now need to quickly ramp up to occupy the p-way else the vandals come calling to pilfer clips and track materials. What a palaver?