Rounds of applause has continued to greet the approvals by President Mohammadu Buhari, of award of contracts for the construction of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri (Eastern) rail line, a deep seaport in Bonny and an industrial park in Port Harcourt, as analysts posit that the city may have been tipped as an emerging commercial hub for the African continent.
Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, announced the approval some weeks ago while addressing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council Meeting held virtually at Council Chambers, Abuja.
“The Federal Executive Council today, approved the award of contract for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri Eastern Narrow-Gauge Railway, with new branch lines and trans-shipment facilities“,
“It also approved the construction of a deep seaport in Bonny under PPP and construction of a railway industrial park in Port Harcourt“, the Minister said.
Reacting to the development, erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the defunct New People’s Democratic Party (nPDP) and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze said the approval is part of ongoing measures to invest and renew investments in rail and ports development to allow for an unfettered delivery of economic benefits to Nigeria.
In a statement made available to media houses, the party bigwig said the benefits of investing in ports and rail transport infrastructure are not limited to the security they offer but that improved freight services translates into a massive growth in trade and commerce, followed by improved labour supply and technical diffusion.
He maintained that investments in physical infrastructure and projects with tangible quantifiable benefits such as rail and ports create a better business environment and improve transport efficiency, which facilitates export and import growth in addition to wider impacts on the general economy.
Additionally, Eze said efficient rail and port system with enhanced logistic abilities is a veritable income booster and key determinant of foreign direct investment into a country especially, when objective criteria such as economic and social impacts are relied upon for approval of key critical national and viable projects such that has been approved by the Nigerian government in this context.
The party stalwart highlighted that competition among countries remain an everlasting phenomenon and in the contest for attaining advantage and controlling access to resources and new markets, smart governments around the world invest massively into different development projects.
Such projects, Eze said include the development of ports and rail infrastructure and the expansion of existing ones. He said the role of ports is not limited to cargo handling but also includes the provision of better logistics services to meet the growing demands of global supply chains.
Outlining the fore deals of the projects for the South-South/East regions, the party chieftain expressed that the projects, when completed, will open up new economic channels, revolutionize trade and commerce, take thousands off the labour market, improve livelihoods and inject fresh blood into the general economy.
He said a deep seaport in Bonny, Onne, Calabar, Onitsha and a few other places within the Eastern region will serve as very important channel for a regional economic development, because according to him, such projects have long-standing record of promoting commerce and boosting industrialization.
Expressing optimism that the projects will be the game changer for the regions, Eze said it is not surprising to realize that most of the world’s major cities are port cities, and in many instances port activity plays major roles in the general economic framework of their host regions.
Admonishing local and foreign investors to leverage on the benefits of the projects and think the way of the eastern region, especially Port Harcourt, for investments, Eze said the goal is to provide a level of vertical and horizontal integration, which is targeted at improving the performance of the economy.
Similarly, the party stalwart said the inauguration of the 326 KM Warri-Itakpe Standard Guage Rail Line project by President Mohammadu Buhari, Thursday, 29 September, 2020, is a ’no mean feat‘ which systematically points to the substantial feasibility of the sound economic recovery and growth plan of the APC led Federal Government.
Beside serving as a major transportation artery for the eastern region, Eze said the rail line which connects Kogi, Edo and Delta States is expected to convey passengers and cargos in millions and tons of millions annually while reserving the potential of metamorphosing into a veritable part of Nigeria’s economic hub.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the project, which was done virtually, President Mohammadu Buhari directed that all ports be linked to the rail network in order to improve the overall transportation and open up further economic channels.
The President further declared that his administration recognizes the importance of the rail mode of transportation as a vital backbone to support industrialization and economic development.
„Accordingly, I have approved the prioritization of viable railway routes for either new rail lines or the construction and rehabilitation of some, to achieve effective and efficient train services supporting the country’s trade and commerce“, the President added.
Reacting to the directive on linking rails to ports, Eze said such initiative is thoughtful and will not only birth a massive revolutionary trend in commerce, trade, investment and the general economy, but also open up further opportunities for skills development and job creation for the Nigerian people.
Chief Eze commended the Transportation Minister, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi CON., for his commitment in the timely delivery of the project which was stocked in limbo for three solid decades by successive administrations and appealed that he redoubles efforts in ensuring the speedy commencement and completion of the approved Eastern rail line and other accompanying projects.
Describing the Minister as a competent workman, worthy patriot and seasoned public servant, the party chief said the approved Bonny deep seaport and the eastern rail line remain very viable and crucial projects that possess the potential of launching the country into a new dimension of economic growth and development.
He expressed warm gratitude to the Federal Government of Nigeria for giving an accelerated and sympathetic hearing to the public yearn for the projects considering the huge potentials they have in stock for the economy notwithstanding the garrulous dissenting opinions from anti-people and opposition forces who were hellbent at frustrating the approval in a bid to score cheap points on which to castigate and cajole the Transportation Minister in their seeming unending but failed campaign of calumny.
Eze commended the President for providing the necessary supports and enabling environment for the implementation of strategically sustainable policies and programs that have significant effect and direct bearing on the people especially, for economic revival and job creation.
The party chief congratulated Nigerians for the enormous achievements recorded in rail and ports infrastructure under the APC administration, describing it as a massive win for the country and appealed for more support as the Transportation Minister, Rt. Hon. Amaechi, continues to break new grounds.
Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is APC Chieftain & former National Publicity Secretary, nPDP