The Senate on Wednesday called on the federal government to upgrade the Eastern Rail line traversing Port Harcourt to Maiduguri from narrow gauge rail to standard gauge rail.
Similarly, the upper legislative chamber also called on the federal government to suspend the purported planned rehabilitation of the outdated narrow gauge rail from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.
Specifically, thé senate demanded for arrangements for the proper funding of the construction of standard gauge rail in the Eastern Rail line and acquisition of modern coaches.
This is sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Victor Umeh (LP, Anambra Central) and co-sponsored by 31 others at the senate plenary.
The motion titled: “a bill for an act to upgrade the Eastern Rail line traversing Port Harcourt-Enugu-Maiduguri from narrow gauge rail to standard gauge rail observed that in April 2022 the federal government awarded a failed contract sum of $3.2billion for rehabilitation and construction of a narrow gauge rail line, instead of standard gauge rail line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri which has been vandalized, abandoned and overgrown with weeds and trees.
Senator Umeh bemoaned that “not only that the project failed, but the Chinese contractors partnering with the federal government on the project who were expected to provide 85 percent of the expected funding programme, abandoned the project without injecting any funds”.
He noted that “the federal government should consider involving Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to ensure that modernization and standardization of the Eastern Rail line is achieved”.
Further worried that “the federal government is missing a huge amount of revenue by exclusion of the Eastern Rail line in the ongoing railways standardization and modernization programme”.
The lawmaker however expressed optimism that “the inclusion of Eastern Rail line in the current modernization and Standardization programme will enhance sustainable socioeconomic relationships across the country, and also promote national integration, and ultimately boost the economy and give a sense of belonging to all”.
Consequently, the senate urged the committee on land transport to ensure that all the four geopolitical zones within the Eastern Rail line corridor benefit from the ongoing railways standardization and modernization programme of the federal government.