The Federal government of Nigeria has flagged-off commercial freight services on the Warri-Itakpe standard gauge route on Friday, April 16, 202.
In his remarks The Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon. Chibuike Amaechi disclosed that the freight service is a partnership between the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to move materials for the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipe project, adding that it will hasten the completion of this project and improve the electricity supply for domestic and industrial usage, and also accelerate the movement towards industrialization.
“It has been one of the strategic aims of the present administration to ensure that all critical infrastructure abandoned by previous Governments that would benefit the country and citizenry will be completed and commissioned by this administration.
“Only recently, precisely last year September, the President and Commander-in-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari virtually commissioned the Warri-Itapke standard gauge passenger train service. Reports available suggest that patronage on this route has increased by over 200% in the last few months and is becoming a preferred means of transportation for communities along this route in Delta, Edo and Kogi States”, he said.
The Minister who noted that the laudable achievement will definitely boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and equally enhance the socio-economic development of the communities living along the route, also stated that modernization of railways in Nigeria is not confined or restricted to any geographical location in the country, called on the communities where these facilities are sited to make the best use of them by protecting the critical Federal Government infrastructure from vandalism.
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Buhari Abdulfatai, who was represented by Senator Istifanus D. Gyang representing Plateau North Senatorial District, gave the Senate’s assurance of continuous cooperation and commitment to the Minister, towards the full realization of the long held dream of a functional nationwide rail network through much needed appropriation and effective oversight.
“The Senate looks forward to the speedy completion of more rail line arteries. This will relieve our roads from heavy duty haulage that shortens the lifespan of our roads. It also provides a cheaper and safer alternative to road transportation”, he stated.
Earlier in his welcome remarks he Chairman of the NRC Board, Engr IbrahimA Musa recalled that the long road to the construction of the railway line started in 1987, some 34 years ago and was originally designed for the transportation of Iron Ore from Itakpe to Ajaokuta (Kogi State) and Aladja steel Rolling mills (Delta State)
“The event of today is a remarkable realization of a long awaited dream that took many long years to come true.
“This same railway line, the central line was revived and completed by the
present Administration under the supervision of the Hon Minsiter of
Transportation and commissioned by HE President Muhammadu Buhari on 29th
September 2020. It would have been the first standard gauge railway line in
Africa if it had it not been abandoned”, he said. Adding that there are plans to extend this line to Abuja.
The ceremony was attended by the Executive Governor, Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, Members of the National Assembly,Members of the National Executive Council,Chairman Governing Board NRC, Managing Director NRC, Members of NRC board, Royal fathers, Group Managing Director, NNPC and others.