Minister of Transportation Mr Chibuike Amaechi, has said that negotiations for the possible construction of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line were ongoing. The minister said this in a statement issued by Mr Israel Ibeleme, his Media Aide. According to Amaechi, the Federal Government and the Chinese Government are still negotiating on the project. The minister also said that the Federal Government would also continue its negotiations with Russians for the commencement of the Lagos-Calabar rail project. “The six geo-political zones are all covered, Port Harcourt –Maiduguri covers Port Harcourt, Aba, Owerri, Umuahia, Enugu, Abakaliki, Awka, Makurdi, Lafia, Akwanga, Jos, Bauchi, Gombe, and connects to Damaturu, and then Maiduguri.
“The Lagos-Calabar rail line covers the whole of the South South zone. We have Lagos coming through Akure, Benin. Then from Benin we have a spot leading to Agbor and Asaba to Onitsha and then you continue to Benin to Ughelii, Warri, Yenagoa, Port Harcourt, Aba, Uyo, and Calabar that takes care of the South South zone. While the Port Harcourt–Maiduguri rail line takes care of the South East and North East zones. The Lagos-Kano rail line also takes care of the South West zone and parts of the North West and North Central zones.’’
According to Amaechi, the central line that starts from Abuja also takes care of the North Central zone, which includes Kogi and Kwara states. He noted that the construction of the rail lines across the country required huge funding even as he acknowledged Nigeria’s rising borrowing profile. The minister said that in view of the debts already incurred, if there was not enough money to construct new rail lines, money could be borrowed to rehabilitate the existing ones. “Currently what we now have as functional lines are: Lagos-Ibadan (156km), Abuja-Kaduna (186km), and Itakpe-Warri which is about 350km all put together under this government. We have recorded a total of about 600+km of railway and by the time we complete the Ibadan-Kano rail line which is about 860km, we will be having 1500+km railway constructed by this government. I hope that the next government that will take over from us will be able to do something in that regard to progress the railway, because even if we finish the Lagos-Kano and Lagos-Calabar rail lines, the Port Harcourt–Maduguri line still needs to be finished,” the minister said. (NAN)