The federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has halted the construction of the Port Harcourt-Maidugiri Eastern rail line due to insecurity and vandalism of railway properties on the corridor.
The Minister of Transportation, Engr Mu’azu Sambo, disclosed this during the inspection of the project, on Friday, September 2, 2022, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
According to the minister, China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCEC), the contractor handling the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the project had complained of attacks on its workers along the Abia state axis.
Sambo who was obviously very displeased by these acts, condemned it in strong terms, pointing out that in the history of Nigeria, no administration has invested more in rail infrastructure like the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He used the opportunity to call on the media and the judiciary to collaborate with the Ministry to ensure that these economic saboteurs are not only exposed but prosecuted and sentenced speedily to serve as deterrent to others.
On the issue that funds meant for the Eastern rail line is diverted to other projects, the minister said it was fake news as the progress made so far is from the 15 percent of the counterpart funding by Nigeria while the 85 percent to be provided by foreign partners is still negotiated.
This came a few days after the government admitted that it will be insensitive to the plight of families whose loved ones are still in captivity to restart the Abuja-Kaduna train services now.
Recall, in July 2022, members of the abducted passengers of the Abuja-Kaduna train besieged the entrance of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Abuja, demanding the government’s intervention in the release of the victims.
The protesters had carried placards with different inscriptions including hashtag “#FreeKadunaTrainAttackVictims.” Some of the inscriptions read, “Mr. President please help us,” “President Buhari Pls help us,” “We hardly sleep with our two eyes closed,” “The victims are dying in captivity,” “Our blood pressure keeps on rising every day,” amongst others, demanding an urgent intervention from the Nigerian government.
Meanwhile, the numbers of victims still in captivity has reduced to 27 following the release of others by the terrorists.