The President of Nigeria, General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has directed the transportation ministry to extend the newly commissioned 326-kilometer Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line to Abuja.
The President, while speaking at the inauguration of the rail line on Tuesday, September 29, directed the ministry to link all the nation’s ports of origin and destination – Apapa, Tin Can, Warri, Onne, Calabar Ports – to the nation’s rail network.
The project began in 1987 as the government tried to create a medium to move iron ore from mines around Itakpe to the steelworks at Ajaokuta. However, the project was abandoned until construction resumed during President Buhari’s first term.
According to the president, the project which serves as a vital link of south-south to the north would be completed before he hands over in 2023.
President Buhari said, “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. 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 added, “I implore those who work on this line to uphold the maintenance and safety culture necessary for long-lasting service in this difficult terrain. By the same token, I urge other sectors who will be primary beneficiaries of this transportation backbone, including, the iron and steel sector, stakeholders in agricultural and mining sectors on this corridor, as well as the host communities to protect and sustain this infrastructure and maximize the benefits that could be derived from it and which is readily available at their doorsteps. This project will increase the volume of their trade and kickstart and resuscitate the iron and steel complexes.”
President Buhari assured Nigerians that his administration would continue to use Nigeria’s available resources to judiciously connect commercial and industrial hubs to boost trade, generate wealth, and create employment.