The Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu, has advised the Nigerian Railway Corporation against hindering the rehabilitation and expansion work at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu State.

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The Deputy Minority Leader represents Aninri/Agwu/Oji-Uzo Federal Constituency in Enugu at the House.

He issued the warning in a statement released on Wednesday titled, ‘Don’t Derail Work at Enugu Airport, Rep Tells Railway Corporation…Asks Railway to Declare Scope of Work.’

The statement was in reaction to the recent claims by the Eastern District Manager of NRC, Osidipe Olusoji, who reportedly said the Enugu State Government was allegedly frustrating Federal Government’s efforts to extend its standard gauge railway project to the South-East by demolishing some facilities of the corporation.

The Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu
The Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Toby Okechukwu.

Okechukwu cautioned the NRC against “any conducts or utterances” capable of derailing the reopening of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport for flight operations on schedule.

He urged relevant government bodies to instead declare details and scope of the said effort by the Federal Government, as leaders of the region would be glad to play their parts to ensure its actualisation.

The lawmaker said, “It does appear that some of these things are orchestrated to ensure that the airport does not commence operations as planned.

This surreptitious distraction, including the demolition of the airport’s fence, and claim of standard gauge for the railway is quite dramatic and surprising.

“For the first time, managers of the Eastern Rail corridor are talking. It is quite surprising that the Railway Corporation is doing any work to upgrade the Eastern Railway Corridor to a standard gauge without the knowledge of the host communities, including the host Governor of Enugu State and the Southeast Governors Forum.

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“In any case, such upgrade is very welcome and is actually what we have been advocating and the region is very ready to cooperate.

We still continue to appeal to the Federal Government and the Railway Corporation to make Eastern Rail Line effective because of its consequential effect on the citizens, especially the people of South-South, South-East, North-Central and North-East regions.

It will also put to rest some of the restiveness in these areas.

“We are equally pleased that attention is being paid to the eastern ports in recent times, especially with the arrival of huge vessel at Onne Port.

Our expectation is that the evacuation of goods and products from this port will require railway services as well.

“However, we expect full disclosures. The NRC should define its scope of work and deliverables. Besides, both FAAN and NRC belong to the Federal Government and are expected to be complementary in their nature of services.”