The Federal Government has assured Nigerians that the challenges being experienced on the Warri-Itakpe rail corridor have not gone unnoticed as plans are in top gear to resolve all of them. .

The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, stated this on Friday, October 2, 2021, while on a 2-day inspection of facilities in the 12 Stations along the Warri-Itakpe corridor to ascertain the level of operations as well as in response to complaints made by commuters along the rail corridor.

While addressing the media, Ajani said: “We’ve come; we’ve seen; we’ve spoken to clients. We now know exactly what is going on. We will go back home and re-strategize to make sure that we meet the needs of Nigerians”.

“Remember that Warri-Itakpe was actually conceptualized for moving freight from Ajaokuta to Alaja. So, it wasn’t really meant for passenger use but we decided well beyond freight, passenger could also use the place.”

Speaking further, she pointed out that “this is more than a 33-year-old project and if you compare this to Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kaduna, you’ll see that there’s a huge difference in terms of the designs of the stations and that is because of the initial concepts for this line. Be that as it may that we are now using it for passengers, and the challenges are staring us in the face, we have to look at how to solve them and that is the main reason why I took this trip”.

Addressing complaints of some passengers over the hike in ticket prices, Ajani appealed to them to bear with the Federal government, saying that the projects were procured through loans and the government was not running it to make any gain, but to maintain the facilities and pay back the loans, pointing out that the price is dictated by market prices of diesel, running costs and others.

According to her, “The huge challenge we have on this line is the power and the procurement process that was stalled in 2017 or there about because of some grievances and we are trying to resolve this problem with Federal Ministry of Justice and the Bureau of Public Procurement because we definitely need light; power to power even the boreholes. So, it is something that is very urgent and as a Ministry, we will look at the best way to resolve this and make sure that the power projects for this line is concluded.”

Consequently, Ajani, pleaded with Nigerians to be a bit patient, assuring that other inconveniences such expansion of waiting areas will be resolved soon, giving assurances that they will ne captured in the Ministry’s 2022 budget plan.

Speaking also, the Project Manager, Technics Engineering Architecture Management (TEAM) Nigeria Limited, Engr. Chiedu Nwazojie, disclosed that they have handed over the project to the Nigeria Railway Corporation over a year ago but they are, however still on ground as Consultants to make sure that everything is functioning and maintenance carried out as at when due.

The Permanent Secretary was accompanied on the 2-day activity by the Director, Civil Engineering /New Lines, Engr. Anthony Onyokoko, Deputy Director, overseeing Office of the Director, Rail Transport Services, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Phoebe Nwandu, the Managing Director, China Civil Engineering Construction Company, Vincent He, Journalists, among others.

Eric Ojiekwe
October 3, 2021