The Federal Government has unveiled plans for a comprehensive rehabilitation of existing railways across the country.
Idris Umar, the minister of transport, speaking at the opening of the National Council of Transport meeting in Lagos on Thursday, said while works had been completed on some of the rail lines, a number of other lines across the country are receiving attention.
The minister’s comment is coming as Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos, speaking at the same event, harped on the need for massive investment in infrastructural development and the creation of climate to strengthen public-private partnership (PPP) in the transportation sector.
According to the minister, “Consequent upon the completion of rehabilitation works on the Lagos-Kano narrow gauge, passenger/cargo operations commenced in December 2012, while container movement from Apapa Port complex to Kaduna and Kano commenced in August.
“Works are also ongoing to complete rehabilitation of the Eastern Narrow Gauge Line, Port Harcourt- Aba- Umuahia- Enugu- Markurdi- Lafia- Kuru- Bauchi-Gombe-Ashaka- Maiduguri with brank lines at Kuru to Jos, Kafachan and Kaduna”, he said adding that trains are expected to be back on tracks in aforementioned corridors by 2014.
Under the railway modernisation programme, the minister said the construction of standard gauge from Abuja(Idu)- Kaduna has attained 68 percent completion, while the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri line has attained 77 percent completion.
“Both lines are expected to be completed and commissioned by next year 2014”, the minister said, stressing that contract for Lagos–Ibadan double track standard gauge line has been awarded, adding that as soon as funding arrangements are concluded with China Exim Bank, will commence construction of the lines.
He said the ministry has also commissioned consultants to carry out feasibility studies for seven new standard gauge railways: The Lagos- Ibadan-Oshogbo-Baro-Abuja high speed; Lagos-Shagamu-Ijebu Ode-Ore-Benin City; Benin-Agbor-Asaba-Onitsha-Nnewi-Owerri-Aba with additional line from Onitsha-Enugu-Abakaliki; The coastal railways line: Benin City- Sapele-Warri-Yenagoa-Port Harcourt-Aba- Uyo-Calabar with branch line from Akampa-Ikom- Obudu Cattle Ranch; Ajaokuta (Eganyi)- Obajana- Jankura- Baro-Abuja with additional line from Ajaokuta-Otukpo; Eganyi (near Ajaokuta)-Lokoja-Abaji- Abuja, which he said have reached advance stages and Zaria-Funtua-Tsafe-Gusau-Kaura Namoda- Sokoto–Illela-Birnin Koni in Niger Republic, he said.