Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line in Nigeria, the first standard gauge railway(SGR) line in the country has started operation.
Constructed by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC),the 326km railway line will help connect the Northern and the Southern part of Nigeria a move that president Muhammadu Buhari hopes will boost trade and spur economic growth in the country, the most populous in Africa.
“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,” said Mr Buhari.
“The 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”.
Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Rail line is expected to serve close to one million passengers annually and also unleash approximately 3.5 million tonnes capacity of freight annually.
The railway project started under the military era in 1987 but “underwent protracted hiccups, prolonged abandonment and massive vandalisation,” before it was resuscitated by the Buhari administration.
Mr Buhari, who flagged off the project virtually, said that his administration recognised the importance of the railway mode of transportation as a vital backbone to support industrialisation and economic development.