Communal crisis suspends Eastern railway project -Official

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Enugu-The rehabilitation of the railway track from Port Harcourt to Makurdi has been stalled  following an  attack on the contractor by Ishiagu community in Ebonyi, an official said.

The Regional District Manager of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Eastern District, Mr Felix Njoku, made the fact known this in Enugu on Wednesday at a press briefing.

Njoku said the community prevented the contractor, ESER West Africa from using the railway quarry site located in the community.

“The Ishiagu Quarry Site is vested in the Nigeria Railway Corporation by the 1955 Act of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as Land Use Act of 1978 and now the Laws of the Federation 2007.

“Nobody has contested this position not even the Amaeze community in Ivo Local Government, the land owners, “ he said.

The manager explained that the contractor won the contract to rehabilitate the railway track and was shown the NRC quarry to start the extraction and crushing of ballast stones for the project.

Njoku said that on getting to the quarry site, it was discovered that another company, M/S James J.S Construction Co. Ltd had taken over the place based on a ‘licence erroneously granted it by the Federal Government’.

“It was also discovered on enquiry that the host community illegally granted the company permission believing that they were the land owners but they lack such powers, “ he said.

Njoku insisted that the lease granted to J.S Construction by the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in respect of the NRC quarry was in contravention of section 3 (1) of the Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act, 2007.

He alleged that some members of the community in an attempt to extort money from ESER organised some youths to stage series of protests within the quarry site, disturbing the project.

“ESER has stopped work for sometime now because they are not allowed to crush the required stones for their job, thereby altering the 10-month contract which is now entering its second year,“ Njoku said.

The manager appealed to both the federal and Ebonyi governments as well as security agencies to urgently intervene in the crisis in order to ensure a speedy completion of the project.

The district manager was accompanied to the briefing by the ESER Project Manager, Mr Mehmet Turgay, the Construction Manager, Mr Hiseyin Sayar, and the Senior Special Assistant to Enugu State Governor on Youth Development, Dr Barth Ezeugwu. (NAN)

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