COMMERCIAL services have resumed on the 62km of 1067-mm gauge railway from Port Harcourt to Aba in Nigeria, the first section of the 1443km line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri that is being rebuilt at a cost of $US 3.2bn.

The first passenger train was flagged off by Nigeria’s minster of transportation, Mr Said Alkali, on April 30.

The contract to rebuild the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri line for passenger trains operating at up to 100km/h and freight trains operating at up to 80km/h was awarded by the federal Ministry of Transportation to China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) on October 16 2020.

At that time, work was due to be completed within three years, but work did not start until March 2022 due to technical and contractual issues.

As well as rehabilitating infrastructure, the project includes the construction of new stations and the procurement of new rolling stock. Once completed, it will facilitate the movement of freight to and from the ports of Onne, Bonny and Port Harcourt.

Under the contract awarded to CCECC, the federal government will provide 15% of direct construction costs including land acquisition. The remaining 85% will be provided by means of a bank loan.

Pending the agreement of this loan, which is expected shortly, the project has been funded from the yearly budgetary allocation of the Ministry of Transportation.

The next section due to be competed is the 181km from Aba to Enugu.

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