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HomeTop NewsWorks may start on $2.3 bln Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line in Aug ~Transport...

Works may start on $2.3 bln Port-Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line in Aug ~Transport Minister

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By Samuel Bankole

Construction works on the $3.2 billion rail line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri will commence by August barring all unforeseen circumstances, according to the minister of transportation, Rotimi Ameachi.

Ameachi, who spoke during an interview on NTA Morning Show programme on Friday said the government has paid part of the contract fee to the contractor to enable it to begin construction work.

He, however, said the delay in commencing work on the project was due to the delay in approval by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) for the consulting engineer who will supervise the project.

“We couldn’t take the project to the cabinet for approval due to the delay in approval for the consulting engineer by the BPP,” the minister said.

He said the contractor will require the presence of a consulting engineer who will sign off the drawing and other relevant designs before construction works begin.

He said though the government is still waiting to sign the loan for the project, that notwithstanding, working may start on the rail line as soon as the BPP gave its approval for the hiring of the consulting engineer firm.

READ ALSO: Lafarge Africa repays N33.6 bln matured 5-year bond

The $3.2 billion projects to reconstruct the 1443 km Port Harcourt – Maiduguri 1067mm-gauge line from the south to the northeast of the country, along with new branch lines to Owerri, Imo state, and Damaturu, Yobe state, was launched by President Mohammadu Buhari in March this year.

The project also includes the construction of a railway industrial park in Port Harcourt and the development of the Bonny Deepsea Port on Bonny Island, about 50km south of Port Harcourt.

The government is providing 15 percent of the project costs, with the remaining 85 percent funded through a loan from a syndicate of Chinese financiers.

The project will be undertaken by the Nigerian subsidiary of China Civil Engineering Construction Corp (CCECC).

The redeveloped line will support 60-80km/h freight and 80-100km/h passenger services.

The Bonny Deepsea Port will have the capacity to handle 500,000 TEU per annum, allowing ships with a 100,000 deadweight tonnage to berth.

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