BY JIMITOTA ONOYUME, Assistant News Editor
NOT many expected any shift in the rail sector in the South south region when the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came on board in 2015.
In Delta state, a rail track runs through communities in Ughelli north , Ethiope East and Ika south local government areas down to the home state of Ajaokuta steel company. The rail track connects the defunct Delta steel company, DSC- Ovwian Aladja in Udu local government area. But sadly before the Hon Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi mounted the saddle not much was heard of trains along the railroads for several years.
When Amaechi assumed office and came up with the vision of reinvigorating the rail sector, residents along communities where the rail lines run through dismissed it as another empty talk. But shockingly in the first four years of the President Buhari administration life came into the sector with trains becoming a regular sight on the routes.
At Command secondary school, Mbiri close to Agbor in Delta state some students said they had become familiar with the whistle of trains. “ In the school we hear the steam trumpet of train cruising through the railroads close to us. I have never heard the whistle of train before until recently “, a student confessed. This JSS 3 student incidentally is from Abavo community where the railroads connect other communities in the state. He said he is barely twelve years and was spending his Christmas holidays with his grandmother in the village from age 6 but did not see a train until when he was 11 years.
In Ajanomi-Abraka , host community of the Delta state university, Ethiope East local government area, an octogenarian , said he lived in Kaduna before retiring home and train was a regular means of transportation. He recalled glowingly how excited he was when he saw train recently movement on the rail line in his community. “ It brought back memories of years in the north . I felt happy that train now run through my community “.
A female teacher in Eku community also in the same local government area who simply want to be identified as Agnes said the day she saw a train moving on the track last year she was so happy. “ I muttered ,:thank God , so train has started running through this route.”
In Agbarho, Orogun, Okurekpo, Okpara inland communities it is the same story of excitement. You hear the people hailing the Amaechi wonders.
In my hometown, Okpara community, Ethiope East local government area where the rail line runs through, community folks said they were certain the train mode of transportation had come to stay on the route. I want to agree with the foregoing because the Hon Minister of Transportation, no doubt has set a standard in rail transportation that subsequent government will want to sustain.
As a Correspondent in Rivers state who covered Amaechi for the period he was Speaker of the state House of Assembly and later governor of the state I can speak of his obsession for performance, to deliver on promises. I still remember when he said he was constructing primary health centres (hospitals ) across several communities in the state, many took it as an empty boast.
When finally the first phase of the hospitals were completed , I was engaged to run the advertorial in the Vanguard newspaper tagged project 60-60-60.
The advert simply captured sixty communities where the hospitals were. And it ran for sixty days. It also had phone numbers of the medical doctors incharge of each of hospitals for anyone to call to be sure that the hospitals were functioning. For sixty days, each of the hospitals and the community the hospital is was in the Vanguard newspaper.
Only a man with the zeal for performance can deliver such project within the lifetime of his administration as governor of the state.
The wonders he did in Rivers state as governor is what he is replicating as Minister of Transportation.
I felt good when I saw that the various rail stations have been named after prominent Nigeria leaders. This will help keep alive the memories of these great leaders in the minds of generations of Nigerians .
I salute the Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi ‘s magic .