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  • * To Spend $3.2bn On Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway, Bonny Deep Sea Port, Railway Industrial Park, P'Harcourt Rehabilitation And Construction Projects

By Juliet Nwabiani Okafor (Managing Editor) @AuntyJVIN

Nigeria's Minister for Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, said on Tuesday, that the Federal government is presently conducting feasibility studies on the Enugu-Awka-Onitsha-Abakaliki railway connection.

Amaechi's disclosure is coming on the heels of cries of marginalization of the South East Zone by the Igbos in respect of the federal government's railway project's ongoing in some parts of the Geo-political zones in the country.

The Minister while performing the tape cutting ceremony to unveil the plaque on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, said his Ministry was working to implement the Nigeria railway modernization project and expand the railway network. As a result of this, he stated that the rail line connection from Enugu to Awka-Onitsha and Abakaliki was undergoing necessary feasibility studies and preparation of the conceptual design.

Meanwhile, the Minister, same Tuesday, launched, on behalf of the federal government, the Port Harcourt- Maiduguri eastern narrow gauge railway, Bonny Deep Sea Port and the Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt rehabilitation and reconstruction projects estimated at the cost of $3.2 billion. He said under this arrangement, the federal government is expected to provide 15 percent counterpart funding, while 85 percent of the funding would be through Chinese loans.

According to the Transportation Minister, the three projects are to be handled by a conglomerate led by Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited. He also said that the three projects when completed, will open up the dormant economic activities on the eastern corridor.

President Muhammadu Buhari who performed the virtual groundbreaking ceremony said, ”The connection of the railway to a new seaport in Bonny Island and Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt is designed to increase the viability and boost trans-shipment of cargo and freight locally, across the West African sub-region and in the Continental Free Trade Area.

”The sum of the socio-economic and environmental benefits of these projects includes the creation of massive employment locally. In addition, there will be further utilization of local content and technology transfer, increase in internally generated revenue, and would serve as a fulcrum for the achievement of the federal government planned integrated development master plan.

”We are further expanding it to achieve contemporary demand for transport in the northeast and Southern geopolitical zones of the country. It is also designed to link other standard gauge rail lines under construction through the provision of trans-shipment centers.”

Buhari called on manufacturers and other industrialists to build new factories in an area with the transport infrastructure coming into the zone. He explained that the Bonny Deep Sea Port and the railway industrial park would be handled through direct investments coming from Chinese partners and other international financing agencies. He described the three projects and basically meant to serve transportation and supply chain networks for domestic needs and export, adding that this will also support imports through the new deep seaport in Bonny Island.

Buhari added that” This improved port is designed to be a regional and international transport hub. In line with the global trends, the Railway Industrial Park will have the capability for processing exports of raw materials with value addition and also export of locally made goods.

”In planning this project, prudent use of resources has been given priority, as, by this endeavor, Nigeria will retrieve the old narrow gauge that has been lying in neglect for years and bring it to fully functional state commensurate to a national railway service at a rational price.”

”The Bonny Deep Sea Port has a container terminal of 500,000 TEU (20-foot equivalent unit) per annum capacity and 100,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage) Berth. The Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt, would be supported by necessary infrastructure including power, water, waste disposal, ICT and gas distribution as well as transportation, logistics centers, and ancillaries", Buhari stated. NNL.

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