By Ignatius Ushie
In line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration to continue to provide and strengthen Infrastructure in the country, commercial freight services have officially begun on Warri-Itakpe standard gauge route following the official flag-off exercise by the federal government.
Speaking at the ceremony which took place at the Warri railway station in Delta State, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, Minister of Transportation, said the laudable achievement will definitely boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and equally enhance the socio-economic development of the communities living along the route adding that the freight services is a partnership between the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), to move materials for the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano gas pipe project, noting that it will hasten the completion of this project and improve the electricity supply for domestic and industrial usage, and also accelerate the movement towards industrialization.
According to Ameachi, “It has been one of the strategic aims of the present administration to ensure that all critical infrastructure abandoned by previous governments that would benefit the country and citizenry will be completed and commissioned by this administration.
“Only recently, precisely last year September, the President and Commander-in-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari virtually commissioned the Warri-Itapke standard gauge passenger train service. Reports available suggest that patronage on this route has increased by over 200% in the last few months and is becoming a preferred means of transportation for communities along this route in Delta, Edo and Kogi States”, he said.
The Minister who noted that the modernization of railways in Nigeria is not confined or restricted to any geographical location in the country, called on the communities where these facilities are sited to make the best use of them by protecting the critical Federal Government infrastructure from vandalising the project. Earlier the Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Senator Buhari Abdulfatai, said the commencement of freight services on the Warri-Itakpe standard rail line is a major step in Nigeria’s quest to have functional rail transportation, adding that it is also significant as it addresses the huge infrastructure deficit confronting the nation, the transportation sector inclusive.
Abdulfatai who was represented by Senator Istifanus D. Gyang representing Plateau North Senatorial District, gave the Senate’s assurance of continuous cooperation and commitment to the Minister, towards the full realization of the long-held dream of a functional nationwide rail network through much-needed appropriation and effective oversight.
“The Senate looks forward to the speedy completion of more rail line arteries. This will relieve our roads from heavy-duty haulage that shortens the lifespan of our roads. It also provides a cheaper and safer alternative to road transportation”.
The flag off was witnessed by the Executive Governor, Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa, GMD of NNPC, Royal fathers amongst other dignitaries.