Transport Minister Alarmed By Pace Of PH-Aba Narrow Gauge Rail Rehabilitation

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The Minister of Transportation, Sen. Said Alkali (middle) inspecting the Port Harcourt-Aba narrow gauge rail rehabilitation over the weekend.

The Minister of Transportation, Sen. Said Alkali has raised the alarm over the slow pace of rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Aba gauge rail.

Alkali was accompanied by his team, including the ministry’s permanent secretary, Olufemi Oloruntola; Director of railway transport services, Engr. Zirra Finbar; Director of legal services, Pius Oteh and the managing director of Nigeria Railway Corporation, visited the Eastern District Terminus in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. 

The team visited to assess the ongoing rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Aba narrow gauge railway on Friday, March 29, 2024. However, to the minister’s disappointment, the rehabilitation progress did not meet expectations.

Alkali, who was briefed that the work was nearing completion, expressed his dissatisfaction during his second visit to the site, insisting that he expected substantial progress to link the ports of Port Harcourt and Onne for cargo movements to Aba.

The minister directed his disappointment at the contractor, Messrs CECC, urged expedited action to ensure the project’s timely completion and commissioning. Presently, the project is funded with 13 per cent counterpart funding from the Federal Government of Nigeria, showing commitment to its completion by April 2024.

From the Eastern District Terminus, Alkali proceeded to Obingbo, a boundary between Rivers and Abia states. While observing the movement of an NRC locomotive on the rehabilitated section of the rail line towards Aba, he noted insufficient security measures to prevent vandalism of the tracks and rail slippers. This prompted him to task his team and the CECC to devise strategies to safeguard rail infrastructure from vandalism.

Also, the minister visited Isiagu, Ebonyi State, to assess the progress of manufacturing rail slippers. Although he had hoped to witness ongoing works at the CECC rail slipper production yard, the public holiday might have hindered this.

His engagement in the Eastern District of the Nigerian Railway Corporation was expected to conclude with a meeting with the governor of Enugu State, H.E. Peter Mba, focusing on railway project development and infrastructure in the Eastern Corridor.

Oluchi Okorafor
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