Chukwudi Akasike, Port Harcourt
MINISTER of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has revealed plans by the Federal Government to construct the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line.
Amaechi said the President had also approved the building of two new seaports; one in Bonny, Rivers State and the other in Warri, Delta State.
The minister expressed the assurances of President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to reconstruct the entire stretch of the rail line with a spur to a railway industrial park in Port Harcourt, which he said, had been added to the design.
Amaechi spoke during the Deloitte in dialogue: Nigeria Economic Outlook 2020, held at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos, Tuesday, on the topic, “Railway Infrastructure: Progress and Plan.”
In a statement issued on Tuesday, he said, “We will provide railway from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri. The President has assured me. We are discussing and announcement would be made on the project soon.
“The President has also approved the construction of two new seaports, one in Bonny and another in Warri. The first deep seaport we’ll have in Nigeria is already being built in Lekki.
“There is one being proposed by the Akwa Ibom State Government. I think they call it Ibom Seaport. I’ve told them to bring it and I’ll give them all the backing they need.
“I tell people that this government is by far more business friendly. We would leave as much infrastructure for Nigeria.”
On improving transportation of goods and services across the country, the minister said, “Nigerians are mostly particular about human transportation, how they can commute from Lagos to Ibadan daily.
“But the most important is actually for moving cargo to enhance productivity. Lagos to Kano rail is capable of moving 30 million tonnes of Cargo from Lagos to Kano, while Port Harcourt to Maiduguri can take 11 million tonnes of cargo.
We will also look at policy to ensure that after building the railways, there are certain cargoes that will not be allowed on the roads, to encourage movement of cargo on the rail lines and to ensure that our roads last longer.
“Moving cargo across the country through rail would be cheaper and faster than the roads.”
Amaechi added that the just completed Warri-Itakpe rail line, which was the first standard gauge rail line in Nigeria was started about 34 years ago.