Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Port Harcourt-Aba train services to begin operation in March: FG

He said that the trains were scheduled to run according to fixed times across all railroads in the country.

• March 2, 2024
Train used to illustrate story

The federal government said on Saturday that train services on the Port Harcourt to Aba route will start operation by the end of March.

The Port Harcourt-Aba rail project is part of the larger Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railroad project initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Fidet Okhiria, managing director, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), disclosed this in Port Harcourt after leading a delegation to test-run the reconstructed Eastern Narrow Gauge Rail line.

He said workers were currently putting finishing touches on the tracks to ensure that full train operation could begin within the month.

“I am impressed with what I saw today, especially being able to ride the locomotive and waggon on the tracks.

“Last time we visited, we could not use the train because the contractor said it was not proper to run on the train due to the imbalance of the tracks.

“The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, has directed that the Port Harcourt route be connected to rail as well as initiate the linkage of Onne Port,” he said.

Mr Okhiria expressed confidence that the contractor would complete the ‘tampering’ of the railroad within two weeks, preceding the targeted three weeks for the train services to resume.

“We are pushing the contractor to make the track safe by deploying semi-automatic signalling of the machine points rather than manual operation.

“Despite resource challenges, the contractors are doing their best, and our goal is to achieve this within the next two weeks.

“With this, we aim to commence passenger train services, hopefully within March and fully resume transporting people from Port Harcourt to Aba by the end of March,” he assured.

The managing director said the project design team had started designing a rail track to connect the Port Harcourt-Aba railroad line to the Onne sea port.

He stated that NRC had begun collaborating with the port’s terminal manager and leading engineers to ensure smooth project delivery.

“The initial design has been done and handed over to us. We look at it, make corrections and seek approval. Once approved, work will commence,” he added.

Regarding transport fares, Mr Okhiria mentioned that due to the current high cost of diesel, commuters might have to pay higher fares than what was obtainable before.

He said if NRC could not cover 100 per cent fuel costs, the corporation would aim to generate at least 50 per cent from passengers to sustain operations.

“Additionally, we will assess the conditions of the roads with the intent to cover at least 50 per cent of the road costs.

“The government is working with relevant security agencies to ensure adequate security of the rain line and the linkage of security devices from the trains to the control room.

“Communities should protect what the government is putting in place for us. We are striving to ensure that people who come on the train are safe,” he said.

Mr Okhiria cautioned traders against conducting business on the rail lines, as the trains would no longer slow down for them to remove their goods before passing.

He said that the trains were scheduled to run according to fixed times across all railroads in the country.


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