The Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) was recently dispatched to the construction site to begin work on the US$ 3bn 2044.1-kilometer Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail project that is expected to connect states in Nigeria’s south with those in the north via the eastern states.
During a recent inspection, Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of Transportation, who was accompanied by Magdalene Ajani, the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation; Engr. Fidet Okhiria, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC); and others, said that the aim is to lay train lines in the Enugu State capital before September 2022.
Measures that will allow the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Rail Project to run smoothly
Amaechi explained that when the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail project was launched, not enough funds were allocated to them, but he was hoping that since they had some financing, they would try and secure it before they got depleted.
Read also: Marka-Bangula Railway Project Contract Awarded, Malawi
He said that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) was yet to authorize some of the stations where passengers will board or exit the train. When standard gauges are built on the line, the Minister further stated that they should be built in such a way that both the narrow gauge and the standard gauge may share the same infrastructure. He also insisted on increased security to avoid any delays caused by local unrest.
According to Amaechi, CCECC should have cleaned the road up to the Imo River.
Eastern Railway Line rehabilitation
Recall that on March 10, 2021, the Federal Government began the $3 billion repair and reconstruction of the 1,443-kilometer Eastern Railway Line, which runs from the southeastern oil center of Port Harcourt to Maiduguri in the northeast. It would link Rivers, Abia, Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, and Borno states when completely operational.
It is anticipated to connect Nigeria’s industrial and agricultural hubs, allowing for the easy movement of people, commodities, and services.
Nigeria approves negotiations for US $15bn loans to finance the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail project
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has approved negotiations to secure US $15bn loan for the completion of work on the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail project.
According to Rotimi Ameachi, the Minister of Transportation, the president has also given the approval for negotiations of funds for the execution of the Lagos-Calabar rail project to ensure its speedy completion.
“Do not forget that the Lagos-Calabar rail project is yet to start because of funds; the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail project is yet to start because of funds, but the President has approved that we negotiate for funds,” said Minister Ameachi.
“We are almost concluding negotiations for the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail project. We are looking at the cost of between US $14- US $15bn,” he added.
Revamping rail transportation network
Meanwhile, a lot of progress is being made in the area of revamping rail transportation network across the country. Laying of tracks on the Lagos-Ibadan route is expected to commence next month. The project is expected to provide a lot of job opportunities to Nigerians.
Also read: Nigeria requires US $46bn to complete rail projects
“If the rain does not start early, we will start laying tracks on the Lagos-Ibadan route in April and hopefully we can complete it in December or January and open it up for passengers and business. We expect about 6, 000,000 tons of cargo out of the 30,000,000 tons of cargo that we have between Lagos and Kano,” affirmed Minister Ameachi.
On Itakpe-Warri rail project, Mr. Ameachi said that the project has been under reconstruction, and expressed hope that it could be inaugurated by August this year.
“The tracks were already there but they were vandalized so we are rebuilding those tracks and then building new stations. We are also reconstructing a yard that was abandoned,” said Ameachi. All things being equal, the place should be ready soon, we gave them May as the completion date but let’s say by August we should be commissioning,” he added.
The minister further reassured that adequate security had been taken to guarantee safety of passengers aboard rail transportation in the country. “There are policemen in all the coaches that ply our routes. So if the passengers are attacked by armed robbers, they will report while they take action,” he said.
Negotiations for Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail project in Nigeria begins
Negotiations for the construction of Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line project in Nigeria have begun. Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi made the announcement and said the negotiations are between Nigeria and the Chinese government.
The project which seeks US $15bn loan has been delayed due to a lack of funds. The Eastern rail line connects Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta to Maiduguri in the northeastern state of Borno, near the border with Chad.
Also Read: Uganda seeks US $2.3bn from China to fund SGR project
Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail project
According to Amaechi, the six geo-political zones are all covered. It will go through several states including Abia, Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Nasarawa, Rivers, Plateau, Bauchi, Gombe, and Yobe.
The minister also stated that the Federal Government would continue its negotiations with Russia for the commencement of the Lagos-Calabar rail line project. The rail line will pass through Akure, Benin and then from Benin it will have a spot leading to Agbor and Asaba and to Onitsha. It then continues to Ughelii, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo, and Calabar.
“Port Harcourt-Maiduguri will take care of the South-East and the North-East while Lagos-Calabar line takes care of the South-South. Currently what we now have as functional lines are Lagos-Ibadan (156km), Abuja-Kaduna (186km), and Itakpe-Warri which is about 350km all put together under this government. We have recorded a total of about 600+km of the railway and by the time we complete the Ibadan-Kano rail line which is about 860km, we will be having 1500+km railway constructed by this government,” said Rotimi Amaechi.
Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail project, Nigeria, to commence soon
The implementation of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Rail project or other the construction of the Eastern rail line which connects Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta to Maiduguri in the northeastern state of Borno, near the border with Chad is planned to commence as soon as the Lagos-Ibadan railway project is complete, hopefully by December this year.
This is according to the West African country Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi. He said that the planned commencement is subject to approval by the Federal Executive Council while listing other projects on the pipeline including the Kano/Maradi line which passes through Kano, Dutse, Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibiya, Maradi, and the Ibadan to Kano section of the Lagos to Kano rail line.
Also Read: Proposed Red Line Rail project to link Lagos Airport in Nigeria
“We are also pursuing the loan for the contract which has been awarded for the Lagos to Calabar rail line that will pass through Akure, Benin, Agbor, Asaba, and to Onitsha. And to Ughelii, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo and Calabar,” said Amaechi.
Lagos-Ibadan railway project
The Minister of Transportation made the revelation during the monthly inspection tour of the 156km Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail project whose rail tracks laying has been complete with the construction of stations underway.
Amaechi expressed satisfaction for the construction of the stations along the line except for the Ibadan station. However, he said that the contractor, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), has vowed to deliver three major stations by the end of September, all the seven minor stations by the end of October, and the entire project by the end of December.
The construction of the rail infrastructure began in February 2011 and the railway is expected to provide far-reaching economic benefits and commercial transformation for the West African country when operational.
Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line reconstruction project flagged off
The much-awaited Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line (Eastern Rail line) reconstruction project in Nigeria was flagged off by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday 9th March 2021.
The project, a 1,443 km 1,067 mm narrow gauge rail line spanning from Port Harcourt in the South-South zone to Maiduguri in the North-East zone, will be carried out by the China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), formerly known as the Foreign Aid Bureau of the Ministry of Railways in a contract duration of 36 months.
New branch lines to Owerri, Imo State, and Damaturu, Yobe State will also be constructed thereby achieving the dream of linking the Southeast capitals by rail system and bringing the entire project length to 2,044.1 km.
Also Read: Lagos-Badagry Expressway rehabilitation works in Nigeria, 88% complete
Upon completion, trains on the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway will run at 60 to 80 kilometers per hour (Kph) and 80 to 100 kilometers per hour (Kph) for freight and passenger respectively. The rail project will have a total of 61 stations and loops.
Funding and expectations for the project
The reconstruction of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway line is to be executed with an 85 percent loan with the federal government providing 15 percent counterpart funding according to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Negotiations for the implementation of the project have been ongoing between Nigeria and the Chinese government. The flag-off of the project as noted by the West African country minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is an indication that the negotiations may have been concluded.
“The railway project when completed,” the West African country president said that “will reactivate the dormant economic activities on the Eastern corridor that has been greatly affected by insecurity.”