The Federal Government is to create seven more rail corridors of standard gauge railways in the country, the Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Amaechi, has said.
Amaechi made the plan known in Port Harcourt at the inauguration of Port Harcourt – Aba Mass Transit Train Services.
He said the initiative was a public-private-partnership which sought to modernise and expand railway transportation across the country.
“This initiative is aimed at remodelling and redevelopment of our major railway stations within the country.
“Under the rail modernisation programme, government will open new railway lines to achieve an efficient rail network.
“The Ministry of Transportation has carried out feasibility studies to create seven additional rail corridors of standard gauge railways under the public-private-partnership initiative,” he said.
Amaechi said that government would soon sponsor five bills for passage into law by the National Assembly to enable effective private sector participation in the transport sector.
The minister said that the bills included the Nigerian Railway Authority Bill; National Transport Commission Bill, National Port and Harbour Authority Bill and the National Inland Waterways Authority Bill.
Earlier, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia said the Port Harcourt-Aba train service would boost economic activities and reduce pressure on federal roads in the area.
Represented by his deputy, Mr Ude Okochukwu, Ikpeazu called on the Federal Government to extend the train services to Ovim through Aba-Omoba-Mbawsi-Umuahia-Uzoakoli-Ovim axis in Abia.
He said the Abia Government was willing to partner the Federal Government to rehabilitate the rail tracks on the route and buy coaches that would ply the route.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers who was represented by Mrs Ebere Wigwe, the Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Transport, said the project would ease traffic and reduce accidents on the roads.