Sen. Victor Umeh, Others makes case about the Eastern Rail Line


The Senator representing Anambra Central, Sen. Victor Umeh and other 13 Senators has urged the federal government to upgrade the Eastern Rail Line (Traversing Port Harcoust-Enugu-Maiduguri)from Narrow Gauge Rail to Standard Gauge Rail.

In the motion, Sen Victor was concerned that the Eastern Rail Line which serves 4 Geopolitical Zones of South South, South Eäst, North Central and North East, runs from Port Hacourt, through Enugu, Markurdi, Jos, Bauchi and Maiduguri and the Longest and one of the Oldest Rail Lines in Nigeria needs to be upgraded.

He noted that a functional Railway System in Nigeria will help to reduce vehicular Traffic on our Roads and save same from constant dilapidation.

Umeh also noted that the Eastern Rail Line is the only direct Link from Maiduguri to Port-Harcourt Deep Sea Port for Export Processing activities.

Speaking on the floor of the Red Chamber, Umeh said “ The Federal Government resolved in 2017 to modernize and standardize the Nigerian Railway System by building Standard Gauge Rail Lines and the acquisition of Modein Coaches both for passenger movement and goods across the Country

“In 2017 the Federal Government bottowed a loan sum of $6.8 Billion (US Dollars) for Standardization and Modernization of the Nigerian Railways Network.

“ In furtherance of this Objective, the Federal Government embarked on Modernization of the following Rail Lines: Abuja-Kaduna, Ajaokuta-Italspe-Watti, Lagos-Ibadan, Kaduna-Kano and Kano-
Maradi in Niger Republic;

“ Modernization and Standardization of the above mentioned rail lines have been completed or nearing completion and operational with new Coaches, Port Harcourt to Maiduguri Line remains the only Narrow Guage Rail Line.

“ In April 2022 the Federal Government awarded a failed Contract sum of S3.2 Bilion for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction 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.

“Not only that the project failed, but the Chinese contractors partnering with the Federal
Government on the project who were expected to provide 85% of the expected funding programme, abandoned the Project without injecting any funds.

“ The Federal Government should as a matter of necessity, national interest and the resultant
anxiety of excluding the 4 Geopolitical Zones which the Eastern Rail Line covers, maintain a common Developmental Programme for the country by taking immediate steps to build Standard Gauge Rail Line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri.

“ The Federal Government should consider involving Public-Private Partnership (PPP) to ensure that
modernization and standardization of the Eastern Rail Line is achieved.

“The Federal Government is missing a huge amount of revenue by exclusion of the Eastern Rail
Line in the ongoing Railways Standardization and Modernization Program.

“The inclusion of the 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.

Accordingly, the Senate resolved to:

Call on the Federal Government to upgrade the Eastern Rail Line (traversing Port Harcourt to
Maiduguri) from Narrow Gauge Rail to Standard Gauge Rail;

Call on the Federal Government to Suspend the purported Planned Rehabilitation of the outdated Narrow Guage Rail from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri;

Call on the Federal Government to instead make Arrangements for The Proper Funding of the
Construction of Standard Gauge Rail in the Eastern Rail Line and Acquisition of Modern Coaches.

Urge the Committee on Land Transport to ensure that all the 4 Geopolitical Zones within the
Eastern Rail Line Corridor benefit from the ongoing Railways Standardization and Modernization Programme of the Federal Government.