The federal government has completed the 63-kilometre Port Harcourt-Aba railway project, which is part of the larger Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railroad and was initiated by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.
The managing director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr. Fidet Okhiria, revealed this when he led a delegation to inspect the project.
He said train services would commence in a few months as soon as the finishing touches are completed on the tracks.
“The project from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri is not yet completed. They (the contractors) are working in phases, and they have laid tracks up to Aba. We are so anxious to commence operations; therefore, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, directed us to come and inspect the project so that we could plan for the operations,” he said.
He also confirmed that the tracks have reached Aba in Abia.
“We inspected from Port Harcourt to Aba, and we can confirm the main tracks have reached Aba in Abia. As we speak, you can put a locomotive on the track to Aba, but that will not be good enough for commercial purposes; hence, we are working hard to resume operations. We are looking to start operations within months, and we have drawn a timeline. If we don’t start running on the track, it will go bad, and vandals will take possession.
We are going to meet and work out a possible plan so that very soon, Port Harcourt-Aba train services will start,” he added.
Okhiria warned against vandalising the rail tracks to allow the people to directly benefit from the project.
According to him, the NRC has finalised plans to renovate its existing wagons to run alongside the new ones being expected.
Speaking further, the managing director said that the two wagons were awarded, consisting of both the narrow and standard gauge.
“We will not wait for them to arrive. We plan to start something very soon so that people will not be able to differentiate between the old, functioning ones and the new ones. Rolling stock has a lifespan of 30 years; hence, we will make sure that we refurbish them and make them attractive for people to use,” he stated.
The managing director declared that the federal government would complete the laying of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail tracks within three years.