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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Port Harcourt-Aba train service begins

The Federal Government has inaugurated the 6.2 kilometre Port Harcourt–Aba railway project, marking the start of train operations between Abia and Rivers.

The Minister of Transportation, Sen. Saidu Alkali, who said this at a ceremony in Port Harcourt on Tuesday, noted

that the project was a crucial part of the 1,443km Port Harcourt to Maiduguri narrow gauge rail project.

He said that the Port Harcourt to Aba section of the project was the initial part of the Eastern narrow-gauge railway, aiming to connect five geo-political zones of the country.

“The Federal Government is pleased to inaugurate the train service from Port Harcourt to Aba, a key priority area of President Bola Tinubu’s administration.

“We are grateful to God for the completion of the Port Harcourt to Aba section, which will bring succour to the people.

“The Eastern narrow gauge covers five geo-political zones of the country, including South-South, South-East, North-Central, North- West and North-East,” he said.

Alkali said that following the completion of the first segment and the start of commercial operations, work on the remaining part of the rail line would begin immediately.

“Shortly, we will take a train ride from Port Harcourt to Aba, which means that from today, passenger train service has commenced.

“We will continue the project from Aba to Enugu and from Port Harcourt to both Onne and Port Harcourt seaports for freight services.

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“The ministry is currently in discussion with an investor to convert our locomotive from diesel to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) to reduce transportation cost further,” he said.

The minister assured Nigerians that arrangements were being made with security agencies to ensure adequate security along the rail routes.

He also announced free train rides from Port Harcourt to Aba between May 1 to May 4.

“The train will depart from Port Harcourt to Aba at 8 a.m. daily, while it will leave Aba to Port Harcourt at 3 p.m. daily.

“Full commercial operations will resume on May 7, 2024,” he said.

Muhammad Zakari, the ministry’s Director of Press and Public Relations, said that the project when completed would boost trade, enhance mobility and connectivity between the Southern and Northern part of the country.

He said that the segment of the project was contracted to Messrs China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC) on Oct. 16, 2020, with a 36-month completion timeline.

“But due to technical and contractual issues, the project commenced in March 2022, involving the construction of modern stations and procurement of new rolling stock.

“The railway line will also connect the seaports of Onne, Bonny, and Port Harcourt to facilitate evacuation of goods and sundry freight through the Eastern corridor,” he said.

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Zakari emphasised that upon completing the Port Harcourt to Aba railway, the Federal Government would push CCECC to expedite the completion of the 181km Aba-Enugu section of the project.

He said that he was optimistic that inauguration of the Port Harcourt to Aba rail service would stimulate economic activities between the South-South and South-East zones of the country. (NAN)

Desmond Ejibas
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