Port Harcourt-Aba Railway to Commence Operation in April, Says Saidu Alkali

Port Harcourt-Aba Railway to Commence Operation in April, Says Saidu Alkali

Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt

The Minister of Transportation, Senator Saidu Alkali, has announced April 2024 as the new date for commencement of operations on the Port Harcourt – Aba section of the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri railway line.
The minister disclosed this yesterday while speaking with journalists, shortly after inspecting the reconstructed railway track in Port Harcourt.

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr. Fidel Okhiria, had after test running the reconstructed rail track from Port Harcourt to Aba recently, assured that passengers train would start operation by March ending.
However, Alkali, who expressed dissatisfaction over the postponement from the initial date, said the contractor has been trusted to deliver the project in April as promised.

He also directed the contractor handling the project to ensure that the railway line was linked to both Port Harcourt and Onne Ports.
“This is the second time I am in Port Harcourt for the inspection of the rail line, since I assumed office as the Minister of Transportation.
“They gave us March for commencement of operation, but I am sure while they were doing the inspection there were some observations, and because of exigencies and technicalities of the work, it has been extended to April, because we are already on March 29 today.

“They had given us a definite commitment that by April, they will be able to put Port Harcourt to Aba into use and it’s not only Port Harcourt to Aba alone, I am trying also to get the commitment of how soon they can link Port Harcourt to Port Harcourt Port and also Onne Port, so that we would be able to start from the two sea ports to Aba.”

He continued, “Not really that I am not satisfied with the level of work done, but you know when somebody has given you a deadline, and the deadline didn’t really work, of course you will be dismayed while he has failed the deadline he gave you ab-initio. But if somebody promises you by March and is able to deliver in April, I think you can manage with that.”

The minister assured that the President Tinubu-led federal government is serious and committed to delivery of all ongoing projects across the country.
“Because of the commitment of the government, we have decided to start with the 15 percent component of the federal government to fix Port Harcourt to Aba section of the railway, and we are now trying to fix the line to Port Harcourt and Onne Ports.”

On the Calabar-Enugu-Abuja standard gauge rail line, which was also awarded by the past administration, the minister said, “When we took over, we are trying to sort out the financing because there is no way you can start the project without making all arrangements for the finances, so as soon as the finances is ready, we are going to start.

“Like I said earlier, this is the second time we are coming here for inspection, and Port Harcourt is in this part of the country, and that alone shows how serious and committed we are in delivering the projects in all parts of the country.”

He disclosed that the Ibadan to Abuja section of the standard gauge rail line is currently being sorted out by the government, while advising the public to remain calm and support the government as they are resolute to bring succour to the people.

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