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President Buhari to inaugurate Itakpe-Warri rail line today

President Muhammadu Buhari will today commission the Itakpe-Warri standard gauge rail line, running through Kogi, Edo and Delta states, with commercial operations on the line expected to commence.

The rail service has 12 stations with two located between Itakpe, Ajaokuta and Warri. They include Itakpe; Eganiy; Adobe; Itogbo; Agenebode; Uromi; Egehen; Igbanke; Agbor; Abraka; Okpara and Ujewu.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is expected to  lead the Federal Government delegation to the event.

The 276 kilometres rail line, otherwise known as the Central Railway line, was originally designed for the transportation of Iron ore to Ajaokuta (Kogi) and Aladja Steel Rolling mills (Delta State). It was also designed to transport processed steel to the port in Warri, Delta.

The Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri railway project was first awarded in 1987, the project was initially planned to be delivered in 5 years. However it was abandoned for 33 years due to paucity of funds. The construction of the Itakpe-Warri railway line was abandoned after 254 kilometres had been constructed.

The inauguration of the Itakpe-Warri rail line is a significant feat worth celebrating, as the rail line was mooted about 33 years but was abandoned. Although in 2009, the construction of the Itakpe-Warri railway line was reactivated, with the Goodluck Jonathan led Federal government then approving the redesign and completion of the remaining 22 kilometers. But under President Buhari’s administration, it has been completed and will be running. This has set the pace for many more projects to be completed in the Niger Delta region.

It is another demonstration of the commitment of the Buhari administration to develop the Niger Delta.  The Warri-Itakpe rail line is one of the achievements under the Niger Delta New Vision of the Buhari administration.

The contractors who constructed the rail line are China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCEC), Technique Engineering Architecture Marketing (TEAM) and Julius Berger who have lived up to expectations in terms of quality delivery on the project. They have since concluded their jobs, which they did well and met the desired structure for the rail line, of which the project will be effectively managed by the Nigeria Railway Commission (NRC).

In July, the largest station on the Itakpe-Warri route – the Agbor railway facility and station, was named after former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The rail station will resume commercial activities after the commissioning as soon as discussions are concluded between Dangote and Bua cement. Also, the Ajaokuta steel company and other manufacturers around the railway area are also expected to move their products through the train.

FG, China sign $3.9b agreement for Itakpe-Abuja railway, Warri seaport

The Federal Government has signed a $3.9 billion agreement with a Chinese firm for the construction of railway from Itakpe to Abuja and construction of seaport in Warri.

The agreement, which is Public Private Partnership (PPP), will have Nigeria cover 15 percent of the entire cost of the project while China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC) will cover 10 per cent.

The Nation reported that remaining 75 per cent, according to the Federal Government, will be borrowed by the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV).

To repay the 75 percent loan, the Federal government revealed that the rail would be managed by the CRCC for 30 years after which it would be handed over to the federal government.

The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi explained that the government decided to opt for PPP agreement so as to reduce the debt from loans borrowed.

He disclosed these in Abuja on Thursday during the signing of PPP railway agreement for Abuja- Lokoja rail project and construction of Warri seaport between the federal government and a delegation from CRCC led by its Vice President, Wang Wenzhong

Amaechi said: “The signing ceremony that we have today is the first PPP railway agreement for Abuja- Itakpe or Abuja-Baru-Itakpe and Lokoja and it is between Nigeria and CRCC. The agreement is to be 15% Nigeria equity and 10percent CRCC equity and then we will borrow 75 percent as SPV from the Chinese bank.

“We will give them sovereign guarantee and they will give us performance bond that protects our sovereign guarantee. When they finish construction, they will manage for 30 years. When they recover their money, the ownership of the asset will revert back to the government of Nigeria. The 15 percent covered by us will be paid gradually.

“The entire railway for now in Nigeria is constructed by CRCC. I think that the good working relationship we have had with CRCC is the reason we have not been able to engage other companies.”

On transfer of technology and knowledge, the Minister said there was need for the Chinese firm to engage Nigerian engineers and contractors.

He said: “We need you to work with us to develop the knowledge of Nigerians and that is why we emphasized on the universities we are asking you to build. We are expecting that not only will you build, you will provide us with lecturers until we can train our own lecturers.

“Literally, all the railway activities in Nigeria are handled by Chinese firm. The Abuja-Kaduna that is completed was done by CCECC, and the Lagos Ibadan that is nearing completion is also handled by the Chinese.”

Giving update on the Lagos-Ibadan rail, Amaechi said: “I hope they (CCECC) will be able to complete the project before the deadline. We need you to complete it quickly and we have told you that by February, legally by law, the contract signed would have expired. I hope you will complete before that time so that we can commence commercial activities.”