Why we are dismantling old tracks on Eastern corridor, by NRC
The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), yesterday, said the ongoing dismantling of old tracks on its Eastern corridor is to pave way for reconstruction of a narrow gauge.
Residents had expressed concern in the last couple of days as heavy machines, guarded by battle-ready armed security personnel, began excavation at the tracks.
Reacting to the development, the Eastern District Public Relations Officer of NRC, Dr. Onyedikachi Onovo, told The Guardian that it was part of efforts by the Federal Government to resume train services in the region.
He stated that the activity, being carried out by Chinese Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), which was awarded the contract by the Federal Government, started from Kilometer One, Port-Harcourt Railway Station, and will pass through Aba, Umuahia, Ishiagu, Enugu, Benue and Maiduguri.
He said: “The dismantling of the old tracks, which started from Port-Harcourt, has reached Enugu and will continue to Maiduguri.
“At the moment, the relaying of new sets of tracks, with concrete sleepers, has commenced from Port-Harcourt, and we are hopeful that train operations will resume soon.
“The contractors are dismantling and stacking the tracks at strategic places along the route.
“It may also interest us to know that the contractor, CCECC, has constructed a mighty concrete sleeper construction plant in Ishiagu, Ebonyi State, with a capacity of 800 concrete sleepers daily. The factory has already commenced production.”
He regretted, however, that the greatest challenge the corporation faces on the Eastern District (Port-Harcourt to Enugu) is vandalism of railway track materials.
Onovo added: “While the rail tracks are working in other parts of the country, vandals go into the bushes around this part of the country, using oxygen and acetylene, cutting into pieces and carting away these heavy and highly capital intensive materials. It took a lot of pressure on the Federal Government to award this contract, because it was not interested in awarding contracts worth billions of dollars and naira only for vandals to destroy them.
Although the Federal Government had made efforts to reactivate rail services with new engines and double gauge tracks in some part of the country, that of the Eastern corridor was, however, approved for narrow gauge and was delayed due to paucity of funds.
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