Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC, has hinted that the the Eastern Rail line would be fully delivered by the first quarter of 2024, after nearly 13 years of inactivity.
Trains plied last on the track during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
According to the District Manager, NRC, Eastern District, Mr Modibbo Mohammed, who gave the hint during a courtesy visit to Gov. Alex Otti of Abia State, the 63 kilometer Port Harcourt-Aba end of the track would be ready by the end of 2023.
The District Manager added that the Aba-Enugu end axis of the track would be ready by the first quarter of 2024.
Modibbo who said the delegation came to brief the Governor about the on-going rehabilitation of the railway tracks from Port Harcourt, expressed optimism that the project would be delivered as planned.
The District Manager solicited the support of Gov. Otti in tackling the issue of vandalisation of the rail tracks stacked in some locations in the state and appealed for a patrol vehicle to assist them in security.
He harped on the economic gains of reviving the rail track, adding that it will also create jobs for the youths.
Modibbo commended Gov. Otti for the massive infrastructural development witnessed in the state within his short time in office.
Responding, Gov. Otti pledged support to the efforts of NRC to restore train services to the Eastern tracks after many years of inactivity.
The Governor expressed concern that rail transport had been ineffective in the zone for a long time.
He noted that the rail used to be the most viable means of transportation in the country but suddenly disappeared in the last three decades.
The Governor promised that Abia would support the corporation to function in the state and requested that they continue to update him with developments regarding the on-going rehabilitation of the rail tracks in the state.
Otti pledged to address the request for security and further engage the people on the need to protect and safeguard railway installations in their localities.
He warned that any person caught engaging in vandalisation of railway tracks would be dealt with.
Present during the visit were the Principal Secretary to the Governor/Chief Strategy Officer, Mr Chinenye Mba-Uzoukwu; the Commissioner for Power and public Utilities Engr. Ikechukwu Monday; and the Commissioner for Information and Culture, Prince Okey Kanu.
Similarly, the Commissioner for Trade, Commerce and Industry, Dr. Chimezie Ukaegbu; Commissioner for Transport, Comrade Sunny Onwuma; Special Adviser to the Governor on Trade, Commerce and Industry, Chief Nwaka Inem; Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Due process, Dr. Oluebube Chukwu; the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Homeland Security, Mr. Chukwunenye Alajemba, among others, were also present.
The Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari, had peeled off the rail track from Enugu to Port Harcourt, but failed to rebuild the line, claiming it could not source enough funds to execute the project.