The Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, has decried the frequent stealing of rail components by thieves along the Port Harcourt –Enugu rail line.
The Minister was reacting after he was briefed by the Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) , Engr. Adeseyi Sijuwade, on the level of work done so far on the Lot 1 of the rehabilitation of the Eastern Lines, which cover Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, to Makurdi, Benue State.
Sijuwade had equally lamented the inability of the contractor handling the project, ESER Contracting& Industry Company Incorporated, to access the main quarry for the project, which is located at Ishiagu in Ebonyi State.
The denial of access, according to the NRC boss, was seriously affecting the progress of work on the project, as he implored the Minister to assist in resolving the problem.
Sijuwade explained that a lot of stone – a major component of rail track-laying – had already been crushed at the quarry by the contractor, who he claimed had been prevented from accessing the site by some people laying claims to the quarry.
The NRC Managing Director also stated that replacingstolen (Pandrol) clips, another component of track- laying, was also affecting the smooth execution of the project.
Responding, the Minister stated that, regardless of these challenges, the 2013 completion date for the project remained realisable.
Umar promised to liaise with Ebonyi State Governor Martin Elechi towards resolving the issues surrounding the Ishiagu quarry.
The Minister also directed the NRC Managing Director to look into deploying the personnel of the Railway Police Command to specific areas of thefts in order not to jeopardise the completion of the project.
In the course of his visit, the Minister had earlier inspected other components imported for track-laying at the Railway Station in Port-Harcourt, reconstruction work at Iyama Bridge in Enugu State, and the erosion sites located at Kilometre 63 in Aba, Abia State, after which he proceeded to Gombe, Gombe State; Bauchi, Bauchi State; Jos, Plateau State; and Kafanchan, Kaduna; and Lafia, Nasarawa State, for further inspection.
The Eastern lines comprise: (Lot 1) 463 kilometres, Port-Harcourt to Makurdi; (Lot 2) 1,016 kilometres, Makurdi to Kuru, Plateu State, with the inclusion of spur line to Jos and Kafanchan; and (Lot 3) 640 kilometres, Kuru to Maiduguri, Borno State.