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Arrival Of First Train Service In Midwestern Nigeria Featured

Business & Economy / Sunday, 29 July 2018 05:27

With the arrival of the first passenger train in Warri, Midwestern region of Nigeria, the country's railway corporation marks the completion of the central axis of Nigeria's railway system. Spanning a distance of  320-kilometre of  standard gauge rail line linking Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri, with passenger stations in local centers of commerce such as Itakpe, Eganyi, Ajaokuta, Itogbo, Ekhen, Igbanke, Agbor, Igueben, Uromi,  Agenebode, and  Warri. The line which has a capacity for four trains of 32 wagons in its first phase, will eventually increase to eight trains of 64 wagons. The designed speed of Nigeria's central railway line is 125km/hr (maximum) for passengers and  100km/hr (maximum) for freight. A central railway axis for the country was first muted between the late 1960s and early 1970s when the central Nigeria settlement of `Ajaokuta was selected to be upgraded to a steel city. 


Conceived  to serve as the  hub of “a soon to be created” steel  city, Ajaokuta was to be connected to  iron ore fields in Itakpe and a giant direct steel reducing plant in Warri, Midwestern region of Nigeria, onward to the international seaport in the same city, via a 323 km standard gauge railway network. Though major works on the country's mega steel projects commenced over 36 years ago, Nigeria's dream to achieve self-sufficiency in steel production and compete with steel exporting economies as an exporter of the product has not been successful.  Over the years, Nigeria's quest for sustained development in steel production was hampered by a massive shortfall in revenue from petroleum exports, differences with foreign contractors handling construction in the country's steel cities and cross-sectorial shortfalls in the country's drive towards rapid industrialization.


Consequently, the commissioning of Nigeria's central express had to be re-designed, as a result of which the system was re-conceived, with its management transferred from the country's ministry of Steel development to the Nigeria Railway Corporation, under the Ministry of  Transport. Ever since 1987, when transformation design to incorporate the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri railway network as the backbone of the country's central train system was effected, commissioning of the project was postponed several times. New impetus was given the project by  President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria's current President, who upon assuming office in 2015, promised to complete outstanding railway projects nationwide. The regime swiftly attended to the age-long problem of securing finance for the project and deployed contractors to recover several already built, but abandoned stations along the train corridor. Vandalized facilities were replaced, access roads built, railway route extended to Warri terminus and several brand new stations with requisite communication systems and logistics platforms commissioned, along with the train route to Warri.


The Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri central train express is seen by some as capable of bridging transportation gaps caused by the collapse of inland waterway shipping service linking various cities and towns in Nigeria's Midwestern, Middle Belt and parts of the country's North Eastern region by river


The central railway network is will be extended to Abuja, Nigeria's national capital, by way of Abaji, Lokoja, and Eganyi, an additional distance of 280 kilometers in the next phase of the line's development. 


Afrika247 report


Arrival of the first passenger train in Midwestern region of Nigeria Abubakar Sidiq Usman ‏ @MrAbuSidiq
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