•Redirects line to Abakaliki, Awka
Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The Minister of Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, has said President Muhammadu Buhari will perform the groundbreaking ceremony for the Eastern rail corridor in the country’s ongoing railway modernisation on March 9.
Amaechi, while on an inspection tour to all the stations from Mobolaji Johnson Station at Ebute Metta to Ibadan station yesterday, also said Buhari had approved the redirecting of the Eastern line to two new spurs.
The minister, in a statement yesterday by the Director of Press of the ministry, Mr. Eric Ejiekwe, identified the two spurs as Abakaliki, Ebonyi State and Awka, Anambra State.
He added that the federal government has approved the commencement of the Port Harcourt – Kano rail project and is also negotiating loans for the Lagos-Calabar rail project.
On the take-off of the Ibadan-Kano rail project, Amaechi said the government was seeking approval for a loan to enable it to take off.
On the Lagos-Ibadan rail project, Amaechi stated that he had challenged Messrs. China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC) to deploy global acceptable safety and security standards for the project.
He directed that the central cooling system be installed in all the major train stations along the route.
Amaechi also urged the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to punish truck drivers who fail to comply with government’s directives when the rail end of the Apapa Port Spur line is completed.
He added that Buhari has specified the tonnage of cargo that should be allowed on the roads and the directive will be complied with.
According to him, the directive has not been implemented as there are no viable alternatives yet.
During the inspection, the minister took the train to the completed southward 8.72 kilometres of the Apapa Port Spur Line end of the Lagos-Ibadan rail line, where he expressed displeasure at the outrageous number of trucks parked on the rail tracks, making work difficult to complete.
The minister, therefore, directed the NPA to ensure that the trucks are moved out and that only registered trucks moving goods are allowed into the ports.