The 326 km Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line has been inaugurated for commercial operation by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.Inaugurating the rail line virtually on Tuesday, Buhari described the rail project, which will link people across the cultural divides and expand the frontier of trade and commerce, as an important link for the country’s economy.
“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.
“This 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,” the statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, quoted Buhari as saying.
Buhari disclosed that he has approved the prioritisation of viable railway routes for either new rail lines or the reconstruction and rehabilitation of some, to achieve effective and efficient train services supporting the country’s trade and commerce. “I implore those who work on this line to uphold the maintenance and safety culture necessary for long-lasting service in this difficult terrain.
“By the same token, I urge other sectors who will be primary beneficiaries of this transportation backbone, including, the iron and steel sector, stakeholders in agricultural and mining sectors on this corridor, as well as the host communities to protect and sustain this infrastructure and maximize the benefits that could be derived from it and which is readily available at their doorsteps.
”This project will increase the volume of their trade and kick-start and resuscitate the iron and steel complexes.
”All these, I hope will improve our industrial potentials and capacities as well as boost employment,” he said.
It is projected that the commencement of operation of the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Rail line will account for close to one million passengers annually and also unleash approximately 3.5 million tonnes capacity of freight annually that will service all off-takers on the corridor and beyond.
The rail line, which suffered several setbacks and false starts in the last 30 years, serves as a vital link of South-South geopolitical zones of the country to the northern zones of the country.