*Other projects are Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Rail Line and Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt
President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday presided over the virtual groundbreaking ceremony of the rehabilitation and reconstruction Of Port Harcourt — Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway Project, Bonny Deep-Sea Port and Railway Industrial park, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
When completed, the 1,443-kilometre Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Rail Line will connect Rivers, Abia, Imo, Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra, Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe and Borno states all by rail.
President Buhari noted that the groundbreaking ceremony of the three projects – Port Harcourt—Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway Project, Bonny Deep-Sea Port and Railway Industrial park – marked the commencement of the implementation of another important national infrastructure.
According to the President, the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri narrow gauge railway reconstruction project, with new branch lines to Owerri, Imo State and Damaturu, Yobe State, aims to resuscitate the once vibrant railway transportation in the Eastern railway corridor of the country, Port Harcourt — Maiduguri.
“We are further expanding it to achieve contemporary demand for transport in the North East and Southern geopolitical zones of the country. It is also designed to link other standard gauge rail lines under construction through the provision of transshipment centers. The funding of the railway is through loan to fund 85% project cost and the Federal Government contribution of 15% as counterpart funding,” the President said.
He added that the Bonny deep sea port and a Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt are to be constructed through direct investments by our Chinese partners and international financing agencies.
“These projects will serve transportation and supply chain network for domestic needs and export as well as support imports into the hinterland of the country through the new deep sea port in Bonny Island, Rivers State. 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,” he said.
The President further said the socio-economic and environmental benefits of these projects include the creation of massive employment locally, further utilization of local contents and technology transfer, and increase in internally generated revenue.
While noting that the projects would also serve as a fulcrum for the achievement of the Federal Government planned Integrated Development Masterplan, President Buhari stated that, “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 full functional state commensurate to a National railway service at a rational price.”
He said, “The Port Harcourt — Maiduguri railway will translate to reactivation of economic activities along the Eastern corridor, which has been greatly affected by insurgent activities and serve as a stimulus for industry and trade.
“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 transshipment of cargo and freight locally, across the West African sub-region and in the Continental Free Trade Area.”