Blessing Ibunge in Port Harcourt
The Minister of Transportation, Senator Said Alkali, has expressed anger over the slow work on the ongoing reconstruction of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Railway projects which was flagged off in March 2021 for construction.
Speaking during an inspection visit of the railway project in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, contracted to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), Alkali accused the contractor of not showing seriousness on the project.
Alkali, who stated that the contractor from the time of commencement was supposed to have covered about 47 per cent of the total 2000kilometers project, regretted that the Chinese firm is still dragging to finish 47 per cent of the project only from Port Harcourt -Aba.
He said: “I am here in Port Harcourt in continuation of my inspection visit of all the railway projects across the country.
“This inspection is starting from Lagos, where we moved to Kano to inspect Mararadi and then to Daura to inspect the Transportation University. So we are in Port Harcourt to inspect the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri reconstruction and rehabilitation of eastern narrow gauge.
“I am disappointed in what I have seen, because this contract was signed for 36 months and it’s to cover over 2000km. So far even Port Harcourt to Aba is around 47 per cent. Ideally it is supposed to cover 47 per cent of the entire 2000km which by now we should be around Plateau or so, and yet we are still struggling to be in Aba before the end of the year.”
Alkali, a former representative of Gombe North Senatorial District, lambasted CCECC for not committing their own quota of funding yet in the project, he expressed how unserious the construction firm is to the project awarded it.
“I am not happy. In fact, I am disappointed. They are using manual alignment to lay the rail tracks in this 21st Century. In this era of technology, if you are not ready for something, don’t even start it.
“The funding was made for 15 per cent to be provided by the federal government while 85per cent to be provided by CCECC. Since the project kick started the funding is only done with the federal government 15per cent, so that shows how unserious the CCECC are in terms of Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project.
“We have to go back to the ministry because whatsoever we do must be between the ambit of the law, whatsoever the law provides, I will make sure to enforce it.
“The project was signed last two years but the actual construction started last year, but even in a year time if you cannot cover Port Harcourt to Aba in 12 months, then how can you cover over 2000km in 36months?”
However, the minister expressed optimism that the project when completed will cushion effect of subsidy removal, adding that it will promote regional trading.
“The project is linking the two ports in Port Harcourt up to Maiduguri that will promote regional trading, cost of trading will be low, by the time we have started the passenger train, it will go a long way to cushion the effect of petrol subsidy withdrawal.”