August 4, 2020

Rail sector: The Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi’s magic

Amaechi's letter that ousted Hadiza Usman over 'unremitted N165b'

Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation.

Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi

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.”

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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 .