By IFEYINWA OBI
Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, has assured the nation that the Warri-Ajaokuta standard gauge rail line will be completed by March next year.
Umar stated this after he carried out an inspection tour of the project recently.
The minister had visited the rail project starting from Warri and took a ride by train up to Agbor.
After the inspection, he expressed satisfaction at the work done so far, adding that government was making efforts to address the financial constraints which have been the fundamental issue militating against the speedy completion of the project.
Umar was later received at the Agbor terminal by the Obi of Owa kingdom, Dr. Emmanuel Efeizomor.
Efeizomor urged the minister to ensure that the work is finished in time to decongest the roads and bring life to the rail routes.
The Project Coordinator, who is also a Division Manager of Julius Berger Nigeria, Mr. Guido Abel, had stated that the biggest obstacle to the realisation of the project is funding, expressing hopes that government will make necessary funds available for its completion.
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, and later abandoned after about 254 kilometers had been done due to funding constraints.
The project was resuscitated in 2009 and is slated for completion in March 2013.
It will now carry passengers as well as freight cargoes.
The train from Warri passes through Itakpe, Ajaokuta, Agbor, Warri and Ore with six stations in between.