The Federal Government, on Friday, ordered the linking of the Port Harcourt-Aba rail line, which construction has reached an advanced stage of completion to the Port Harcourt and Onne Ports in Rivers State for freight operations to begin.

The Minister of Transportation, Senator Saidu Alkali, disclosed this while speaking to newsmen in Port Harcourt on Friday shortly after inspecting the Port Harcourt-Aba Railway track reconstruction.

This is as he said the commencement of train operation within the route earlier scheduled for March 2024 would be shifted to April due to some technical issues.

Alkali stated, “This is the second time I have come to Port Harcourt for the inspection of the rail line since I assumed office as the Minister of Transportation.

“Off course, they gave us March but I’m sure while they are doing the inspection, you witnessed when I was trying to extract a commitment from the consultant and the contractor because the last time I was here, they said March, but because of some exigencies and technicalities of the work, they may extend it to April.”

While expressing dismay at the failure of the contractors to deliver the work in March as promised, he stated, “They (contractors) have given us a definite commitment that by March 6 they will be able to put Port Harcourt to Aba to use.
“When somebody has given you a deadline and the deadline didn’t work, of course, you will have a dismay why he has failed, but if somebody promise you to deliver in March if for any reason he is able to deliver in April I think it’s fine we can manage with that.”

The minister explained that though finance is a major challenge, the Federal Government is committed to completing all rail line projects, including standard and narrow gauge across the country.

He stated, “Contract for the standard gauge was awarded by the past administration so when we took over we were trying to sort out the financing there is no way you can start a project without making all the arrangements the finances so as soon as the finances is ready fine we are going to start.

“Government is serious and committed to developing all the projects in the country. We have just finished the inspection of the Port Harcourt-Aba rail line and are trying to start the operation in April.

“I have directed the contractor to link Port Harcourt rail to Port Harcourt Port and Port Harcourt to Onne Port for freight operations to start.”