President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday disclosed that the Federal Government would provide only 15 percent of the $3.2bn funds for reconstruction of Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway line with the balance to be provided through loans from a consortium of Chinese partners, led by Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited
The project has new branch lines to Owerri, Imo State and Damaturu, Yobe State.
Buhari made this disclosure during the virtual ground-breaking ceremony organized for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge railway project, Bonny deep sea port and Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt.
The President expressed optimism that when completed, the railway project would reactivate several dormant economic activities on the Eastern corridor which hitherto had been adversely affected by insecurity.
He clarified: “The funding of the railway is through loan to fund 85% project cost and the federal government contribution of 15% as counterpart funding.”
Upon completion, trains on the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway will run at 60 to 80 kilometers per hour Kph and 80 to 100 kilometers per hour Kph for freight and passenger respectively.
According to its design, the Bonny Deepsea port has a container terminal of 500,000 TEU (20 foot equivalent unit) per annum capacity and 100,000 DWT (Deadweight tonnage) Berth while the Railway Industrial park, Port Harcourt would be supported by necessary infrastructure and transportation, logistics centres and ancillaries.
The President further explained that Port Harcourt – Maiduguri railway project was also designed to link other standard gauge rail lines under construction through the provision of transshipment centres.
Expatiating on the projects, he said: “The second and the third projects are the Bonny deep sea port and a Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt that are to be constructed through direct investments by our Chinese partners and international financing agencies.”
“This improved port is designed to be a regional and international transport hub. In line with the global trends, the Railway Industrial Park will have the capability for processing exports of raw materials with value addition and also export of locally made goods.
“In planning this project, prudent use of resources has been given priority, as by this endeavor, Nigeria will retrieve the old narrow gauge that has been lying in neglect for years and bring it to full functional state commensurate to a National railway service at a rational price.
“The Port Harcourt – Maiduguri railway will translate to reactivation of economic activities along the Eastern corridor, which has been greatly affected by insurgent activities and serve as a stimulus for industry and trade.
“The connection of the railway to a new seaport in Bonny Island and Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt is designed to increase the viability and boost transshipment of cargo and freight locally, across the West African sub-region and in the Continental Free Trade Area”, Buhari added.