Tuesday, December 23, 2014 6:32 pm
Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan has inaugurated an inter-city rail service between the oil rich city of Port Harcourt in Rivers State and Enugu, capital of Enugu state.
The train service which existed in the past was rehabilitated by the Jonathan government.
‘’ We have changed the course of history with the railway system in the last 30 years from the neglected sector to a rehabilitated and revitalised one by rehabilitating the existing narrow gauge railway lines, their operations and maintenance,’’President Goodluck Jonathan said at the relaunch ceremony in Port Harcourt.
A proud Jonathan also announced that his administration would construct coastal railway line from Lagos to oil producing states of the Niger Delta and link up commercial cities in the South-East. The contract has been awarded to a Chinese firm. His transport minister, Senator Idris Umar later added that work on rehabilitating Lagos-Ibadan rail link will soon begin.
Jonathan said his administration has done 90 per cent of the work needed to complete the Abuja-Kaduna rail line, while the Warri- Itakpe project was at an advanced stage.
With eyes on the looming February election, President Jonathan seized the moment to praise his administration’s economic management successes.
‘’We have managed the economy such that it has risen to be the greatest economy in Africa and one of the largest in the world,’’ he said.
‘’we have introduced programmes that have impacted positively on the lives of the people and addressed key issues in our national agenda,’’ he said.
According to the president, he had fulfilled all his electioneering campaign promises he made to Nigerians during the 2011 presidential election.
Vice President Namadi Sambo read the president’s address at the occasion.
In his contribution, Sen. Idris Umar said more than 90 per cent of the existing narrow gauge rail lines in the country was being rehabilitated and noted that the railways were very significant to the country’s economy.
Mr Adeseyi Sijuwade, Managing Director of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), noted that the rehabilitation of Enugu-Port Harcourt railway had many challenges.
He said 30 metres of the rail line was washed out by Aba gully erosion and explained that five metres wide reinforced concrete culvert of more than 366 metres long resolved the problem.
According to him, ‘’the Aba mountain of refuse’’ of about five metres high was part of the challenges while a section of the track was buried.
He explained that the challenges had made train services impossible in the South-East since 2009.