Efforts by the Federal Government to revive rail transport may be having some obstructions in the hinterlands as many locomotives and wagons lay comatose at the Agbor Terminal on the standard gauge Warri-Itakpe-Ajaokuta route that has gulped billions of naira but still remained uncompleted.
When SHIPS & PORTS DAILY visited the terminal, which is located in a town called Owa-Oyibu, headquarter of Ika North-East Local Government Area of Delta State via Agbor, 17 locomotives and many wagons laid comatose after being abandoned at the terminal.
The standard gauge rail from Warri passes through Agbor, Onitsha, Itakpe and culminates in Ajaokuta with six stations. The Warri-Ajaokuta rail line, which is 276 kilometers long, was conceived in 1987 to carry steel products and raw materials from Delta Steel Company, Aladja, Warri, but was later abandoned, after about 254 kilometres had been done, due to lack of funding. The project was resuscitated in 2009 and was slated for completion 2013 and meant to now carry passengers as well as freight.
When it was reactivated in 2009 for the completion of the remaining 22 kilometres, the Federal Government voted another N33 billion for the design and completion.
The project, otherwise called the central railway line, was initially planned to be delivered in five years, but it was that the government would still need about N40 billion to fully get the line ready.
Despite the scores of billions of naira voted for the project lately, the project remained 22 kilometres and five stations uncompleted towards the Aladja-Warri end.
Also at the Owa-Oyibu terminal, other infrastructure such as water treatment plants, houses owned by the Railway Property Management Company Limited, a subsidiary of NRC, among others rot away.
An insider source told our correspondent that even contracts for the de-bushing of the terminal are laced with scandals, making indigenes to disrupt clearing of the terminal that now leaves the complex perpetually covered in grasses and shrubs.
When contacted, the spokesman of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Mamood Yakub urged our correspondent to refer his inquiries to the Ministry of Transportation, saying the matter was “far above” his office.
“Please, don’t involve me in executive policy discussion,” he pleaded.
Ministry of Transportation spokesperson, Mrs Yetunde Shonaike declined comment, insisting that the NRC is in better position to speak on the issue since it is directly in charge of the project.
Our source who pleaded anonymity said most of the locomotives and wagons abandoned on Station Road at the Owa-Oyibu railway complex could be rehabilitated and put back on the tracks to boost the subsector.
“Often, we hear the NRC talk about acquiring locomotives and saying no money to acquire locomotives and wagons but we have these ones wasting here. These can actually be rehabilitated and put to use because they are still within repair. Fortunately, they are locomotives that can move on standard gauge rail.
“Our fear is these equipment will be left to rot by the current government because it was not the one that acquired it. It will prefer to acquire new ones, thereby wasting public fund,” the source said.
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