The Nigerian Ministry of Transportation says it is seeking approval for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri narrow gauge rail line while it awaits the loan for the reconstruction and conversion of the rail line to standard gauge.
The Minister of Transportation Mr. Rotimi Amaechi stated this in an interview with Journalists in Abuja.
The Minister said the President had earlier given approval for the construction of the standard gauge line, the seaport in Bonny and the Port Harcourt industrial park.
“We may not get the loan for the construction easily, so why not give us permission to do two things at the same time. While looking for the money for the standard gauge, allow us to rehabilitate the narrow gauge. In the ministry, we thought why not rehabilitate the narrow gauge, rebuild the stations, extend to Damaturu in Yobe State and extend to Bonny in Rivers State so we can bear it pending when we get the money for the standard gauge.” he said.
Mr. Amaechi said the ministry had awarded the contract for the construction of the Ibadan to Kano railway project and is awaiting the money from the Ministry of finance to commence construction.
He added that the ministry is also compelling contractors to fast track the completion of the project scheduled to last six years in three years to enable President Muhammadu Buhari to commission the project before leaving office in 2023.
On the Abuja – Kaduna railway, the Minister said more coaches are expected to ease the pressure.
“Coaches are in the country, but they’re having transportation problems. I request for approval from CCECC to transport them to Kaduna, I hope they won’t argue about the transportation of those coaches to Abuja”. The Minister said.
Ten Coaches are expected on the Abuja – Kaduna rail line, comprising two locomotives (diesel motorcar units) and eight coaches, while another ten will be used for the Lagos – Ibadan railway.
Mr. Amaechi also said work is moving rapidly on the Lagos – Ibadan railway Project and in the next three to four weeks the first contract should have been completed.