The Minister of Transportation, Sen. Saidu Alkali, has expressed disappointment over the slow pace of work on the reconstruction of the Eastern Railway Corridor by the Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) Ltd.
The minister made his feelings known on Friday when he inspected the progress of work done on the reconstruction of Eastern railway corridor to Port-Harcourt, Rivers State.
Alkali expressed sadness that between Port-Harcourt and Aba Section, only 47 per cent completion stage had been achieved as against 47 per cent completion of the entire stretch from Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri.
“If you cannot complete Port-Harcourt to Aba which is 63km in 12 months, how would you be able to complete over 2,000km in 36 months?”
Alkali expressed dismay on the use of manual alignment processes by the CCECC in laying the track in the 21st Century.
According to him, in a project that is 85 per cent funded by the Chinese and 15 per cent by the Federal Government, it is only the 15 per cent fund provision by the Federal Government that financed the project so far.
The minister said that he would go back to the ministry to look at what was doable within the ambit of the law and that whatever the law provided on the issues observed, he would enforce it.
Alkali, however, identified one of the striking benefits to be the linking up of the two Sea Ports in Port-Harcourt to Maiduguri as well as promotion of regional trading at a highly reduced cost.
The minister assured the people of the zone that by the time the passenger train services commenced, it would go a long way in cushioning the effect of the petroleum subsidy removal on Nigerians that would make use of the train services.
Briefing the Minister and his delegation, representative of the CCECC, Mr C. Ching, promised that the first section of the project from Port-Harcourt to Aba, would be delivered by December, 2023.
The CCECC assured the minister that enough materials were on ground to meet the target date, adding that the project with a special kind of bolts and nuts that were ‘anti-theft’ had been introduced to make vandalism difficult.
Onovo said the Consultant handling the project, Khairi and Jamub Global Services Limited as well as the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, Directors from the Ministry, the Managing Director, NRC, Fidet Okhiria and others attended the inspection.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that on March 10, 2021, the Federal Government began the $3 billion repair and reconstruction of the 1,443 kilometer Eastern Railway Line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
NAN reports that when completed, it will link Rivers, Abia, Imo, Enugu, Benue, Nasarawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe and Borno. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)
Source: News Agency of Nigeria