Port Harcourt — PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan yesterday flagged off the Enugu-Port Harcourt train service, describing the project as a landmark achievement that would enhance the transport system and boost the nation’s economy.
Represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo, Jonathan said his administration was gradually and steadily transforming the rail system, which had been abandoned for the past 30 years. He affirmed that the modernisation of the rail system would address some key issues in the nation’s ailing economy.
“This flag-off of the Enugu-Port Harcourt intercity train service is a concrete evidence that the Federal Government is very much concerned about its citizens, and I’m glad that this will extend to other parts of the country by January.”
Jonathan lauded the board of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) was able to deliver on government’s promise to revive the country’s once abandoned railway transport system.
According to him, the present administration remains committed to improving the wellbeing of a generality of Nigerians, especially in the provision of critical social amenities and infrastructure that would drive the economic growth of the country.
“We have prayed and yearned for the actualization of this project. We have kept our faith by keeping all our promises,” Jonathan said. “My presence here today is to further demonstrate the full commitment to delivering the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.”
On his part, the Chairman of board of NRC, Bamanga Tukor, explained that the commissioning of the Port Harcourt-Enugu station was a dream come through, adding that Nigerians need to commend Jonathan for reviving the railway system.
He noted that his administration has rigorously pursued policies that would boost the transport system, including the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the road network. Also, he assured that the project would be maintained to ensure sustainability.
Also speaking at the occasion, Managing Director of the Nigeria Railway Corporation, Adeseyi Sijuwade, noted that the rehabilitation of the Eastern line has been much more challenging in view of the extent of its dilapidation.
He recalled precisely that the Aba gully erosion in September 2010 completely washed away about 30 metres length of the track, adding that such challenges made the train services along the line impossible since 2009.
“We have successfully constructed a five-metre-wide reinforced concrete culvert of overall length of 366 to resolve the problem. There was also the Aba mountain of refuse, which was about five metres high.
“These challenges are now history, as all the damaged structures have been reconstructed, the mountain of refuse cleared and the entire track rehabilitated hence the flag-off from Port Harcourt to Enugu,” he said.
Sijuwade further cited the completion of the Western line and the resumption of train service from Lagos to Kano in December 2012 as well as the rehabilitation of the Eastern line as milestones in the rail system transformation. According to him, the Enugu-Port Harcourt-Enugu intercity passenger service will run three return trips per week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The train will depart Enugu at 7:00a.m, stop over at five intermediate stations – Ovim, which is a densely populated passenger station, Umuahia, the Abia State capital, Omoba, Aba, where we have the famous Ariaria Market, and Imo River, which is the boundary of Aba and Rivers States. On arrival at Port Harcourt, the train will wait for about an hour or two and commence the return journey to Enugu.
Written For http://www.globalruns.com