By Abba Gwale
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday launched the $3.2 billion rehabilitation and reconstruction of Port Harcourt- Maiduguri eastern narrow gauge railway project, Bonny Deep Sea Port and the Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt, to be executed with 85 per cent loan and federal government’s 15 per cent counterpart funding.
The three projects will be co-financed with loan from a syndicate of Chinese financiers.
The rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Port Harcourt- Maiduguri railway project, Bonny deep Sea Port and Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt are being developed through direct investment by the conglomerate led Messrs CCECC Nigeria Limited with a total investment portfolio of $3.2 billion.
Performing the virtual groundbreaking ceremony of the three projects yesterday, Buhari said the railway project, when completed, would reactivate the dormant economic activities on the eastern corridor.
He said: “The funding of the railway is through loan to fund 85 per cent project cost and the federal government contribution of 15 per cent as counterpart funding.”
According to him, the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway line will reactivate economic activities along the eastern corridor.
The president said the country’s aspiration for nationwide transport infrastructure and railways would be enhanced by the three projects conceived to be integrated in their operations.
”The connection of the railway to a new seaport in Bonny Island and Railway Industrial Park, Port Harcourt is designed to increase the viability and boost trans-shipment of cargo and freight locally, across the West African sub-region and in the Continental Free Trade Area.
”The sum of the socio-economic and environmental benefits of these projects includes creation of massive employment locally. In addition, there will be further utilisation of local contents and technology transfer, increase in internally generated revenue and would serve as a fulcrum for the achievement of the federal government planned integrated development master plan,” he stated.
Buhari urged Nigerians, especially industrialists, manufacturers and businesses within the zones, to take maximum advantage of the infrastructure in planning for expansion and building new factories.