Posted by Abdullateef Aliyu, Lagos | 29 July 2018 | 1,727 times
After 35 years of neglect, the 154-kilometre Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri standard gauge line is set for commercial operations by September, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi disclosed on Friday.
He spoke during the inspection of the railway line which connects the Kogi to Delta state with a plan to extend the line to Lokoja, Kogi state capital and Abuja.
The contract for this has already been advertised, he disclosed.
Managing Director of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Engr. Fidet Okhiria led the management team of the corporation on the inspection tour with the Minister with an almost 10-hour train ride from Itakpe to Agbor, Delta state.
Amaechi, who spoke with newsmen at the venue put the completion level at 80 per cent, saying though the date for the commissioning is not yet certain, it would be put to commercial use by September.
This is because the stations for the rail project are not yet in place, it was learnt.
The rail line involves completion of 12 modern stations with two to be located between Itakpe and Ajaokuta, and 10 between Ajaokuta and Warri.
They include Itakpe Station, Eganiy Station and Adobe Station, all located within Itakpe, and Ajaokuta Station.
Others are; Itogbo, Age Ebode, Uromu, Egehen, Igbanke, Agbor, Abraka, Okpara and Ujewu Stations. But the inspection none of these stations has taken off between Itakpe and Ajaokuta while work has barely commenced in only three, between stations five to eight.
“While we cannot be sure when this line would be commissioned by Mr President, as a result of the fact that the stations are not yet in place, we are happy that the line has been stabilised and we could commence activity on it by September after more test runs would have been carried out on it”, he said.
According to the Minister, with the line in place, Nigerians would be able to commute freely between Warri and Abuja by rail as they can follow the rail line to Itakpe and link Abuja by road.
Other features of the project were the construction of a railway city, a facility yard among others.
The Minister expressed hope of inaugurating the project before the end of the year.
Managing Director of NRC said commercial operation would commence by September in order to maintain the tracks while the construction of the stations continues.
“Technically, with the level of work now, we can run the train from Itakpe-Warri safely, the next stage is to make the convenience for passengers available which is the building of the stations.
“It is possible to operate now with one train, as far as we have communication signals and for the stations, some will be completed in August, some September, but we are not going to wait for that or else the tracks will go bad, so as a train operator, we will not wait,” Okhiria said.
•Culled from a Daily Trust report
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