President Muhammadu Buhari may have silenced Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike who has been jeering and taunting at Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, for not linking Rivers with rail, while building one from Kano that goes to Maradi in Niger Republic.
Wike reportedly even threatened to resign if Amaechi can point to any project brought to Rivers since he became a minister five years ago.
Well, Amaechi can point to the Port Harcourt International Airport, abandoned by Wike’s PDP, but which has been completed under Amaechi’s watch.
But today, President Buhari dealt Wike, the ultimate punch during the virtual commissioning of the 326 KM Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line.
Buhari directed the Federal Ministry of Transportation to link all the nation’s ports of origin and destination – Apapa, Tin Can, Warri, Onne in Rivers, Calabar Ports- to the nation’s rail network.
The president expressed optimism that the rail network project, when carried out, would significantly improve overall transportation and economic capacities.
He declared that his administration recognised the importance of the railway mode of transportation as a vital backbone to support industrialization and economic development.
”Accordingly, I have approved the prioritization of viable railway routes for either new rail lines or the reconstruction and rehabilitation of some, to achieve effective and efficient train services supporting the country’s trade and commerce.
”The Railway Infrastructure that I have the honour to commission today is the rail line from Itakpe via the steel town complex of Ajaokuta to Warri, and is an important link for the country’s economy as the central rail line.
”This Government has also approved to link this line further from Itakpe to Abuja, thereby, connecting the Northern Zone of the country and also extending southwards to link the Warri Ports,” he said.
The president expressed confidence that the project, which serves as a vital link of South-South geopolitical zones of the country to the Northern zones, would be completed during the tenure of this administration.
”It will link people across the cultural divides and expand the frontier of trade and commerce, which will lead to better standards of living for our citizens,” he said.
While congratulating the Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi and his team on successfully completing the project, the president recognised the host communities on this corridor for their patience during the long wait of over 30 years for the realization of the project.
He also commended the host communities for their cooperation during the completion works by the Federal Government.
He assured Nigerians that his administration would continue, within available resources, to judiciously connect commercial and industrial hubs to boost trade, generate wealth and create employment.
Earlier, the Minister of Transportation, Amaechi had revealed that the project was fully funded by the Nigerian government, adding that eight of the ten stations are in the Niger-Delta/ South South region of the country.
”There is no loan on this project, it was funded from the budget and I had the directive of the President to go and revive it and complete it as soon as possible,’’ he said.
According to the Minister, the project started under the military era in 1987 but ‘‘underwent protracted hiccups, prolonged abandonment and massive vandalisation,’’ before it was resuscitated by the Buhari administration.(NAN)
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