FG flags off Port Harcourt-Aba train service

The Federal Government on Tuesday flagged off commercial train operations on the Port Harcourt-Aba rail line for use by members of the public.

The commencement of the train service has previously been postponed twice.

But the Minister of Transportation, Senator Said Alkali, performed the commencement of commercial services on the 62.0 kilometres of the Port-Harcourt to Aba corridor at the Railway Station in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.

Alkali said the ceremony was part of the intensified drive by the Federal Government to facilitate trade, enhance mobility and accessibility, and ensure connectivity between the southern parts of the country and the northeastern part of the country.

He said the rehabilitation project was awarded by the Federal Ministry of Transportation to Messrs China Civil Engineering and Construction Company with a completion timeline of 36 months.

Senator Alkali stated, “Due to several technical and contractual issues, the project commenced in March 2022.

“It is worthy to note that the scope of the project covers the rehabilitation of the existing narrow gauge railway line, the construction of new modern stations, and the procurement of new modern rolling stock.

“This railway line will also link the ports of Onne, Bonny, and Port-Harcourt to facilitate the evacuation of goods and other freight through the Eastern Corridor.

“The Federal Government, in the contractual agreement, is to provide 15 per cent of the direct construction cost, inclusive of land acquisition and value-added tax, while a bank loan through direct construction cost is to cover 85 per cent of the project.”

He further said that the commencement of operations along this section of the project aims to boost economic activities between the South-South and South-East regions of the country pending completion of the other sections of the project.

“With the completion of the rehabilitation of the Port-Harcourt to Aba rail corridor, the Ministry will continue to vigorously drive Messrs CCECC towards the speedy completion and delivery of the 181-kilometre Aba-Enugu stretch.

“Commencement of operations on this stretch of the project aligns with priority five of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Presidential Priority Areas, which identify enhanced infrastructure and transportation as enablers of growth for the economy.”

The highlight of the occasion was that immediately after the commissioning, the Minister and his entourage, along with some members of the public boarded the train for a ride to Aba, Abia State.