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Nigerian government steps in to fund standard gauge railway project
The Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri standard gauge rail line will be ready for commercial use next year, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said.
The minister dropped the hint while addressing journalists at the Agbor Railway Station 7 shortly after inspecting the facility.
The minister said that the 34-year-old rail line was originally conceived to serve as a heavy duty carrier of raw materials to service Ajaokuta Steel Company, Aladja Steel Company and National Iron Ore Mining Company Itakpe.
“But considering the number of years it had been lying fallow without being put to any use, the facility will now serve the dual purpose of ferrying passengers across the region as well as its original purpose of conveying raw materials to feed Ajaokuta, Aladja and Itakpe,” he stated.
This, Amaechi said, was the reason why some platforms and eight stations were being built to extend to Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, to cater for the needs of passengers.
The minister explained that the 302km rail line, the longest in the country, would move 900 passengers daily when in use as from next year.
Eight out of the 12 stations from Itakpe to Warri have been built, while work is ongoing on the remaining four stations.
The minister said that although the project was scheduled to be delivered next year, the contractor was being compelled to make it ready for use by the end of this year.
He urged the contractor handling the stations to expedite action on the construction and not to lose sight of important facilities such as eateries at the stations so as to meet the agreed deadline.
The Project Manager, Chiedu Nwazojie, stated that the project would be delivered on schedule in spite of a pocket of challenges, including some community people stopping the contractor from working on some days.
He said the trains, when fully operational, would do 100 kilometres per hour.
This article first appeared on punchng.com
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