Image esanland.org passengers boarding the free test ride in Agbor Station

The Economic Importance to Esanland & Edo State

Brief History of Warri Itakpe Rail Project

Abandoned over three decades ago now almost in its final completion by Buhari Administration

ALL over the world and for several centuries, rail transportation has been the foundation of industrialisation, economic efficiency and productivity. This explains why developed economies continue to expand and fine-tune its rail transportation, while the developing economies strive to build their rail network and expand the same. For instance, the rail infrastructure stock in the United States of America increased 16-fold from 14,000 kilometres in 1850 to over 220,000 kilometres today. The United States’ rail network has annual revenues of about $60 billion, provides 221,000 jobs and delivers 5 million tons of freight and transports approximately 85,000 passengers every day. Findings show that one-third of all exports from the United States are facilitated by rail transport.
According to Wikipedia, the Nigerian Railway Corporation traces its history to 1898, when the first railroad in Nigeria was constructed by the British colonial government. Then on October 3, 1912, the Lagos Government Railway and the Baro-Kano Railway was merged, thus starting nationwide rail service under the name Government Department of Railways.

In 1955 NRC rail Act was passed to the name The Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC). The rail network reached its maximum extent shortly after independence in 1964. Shortly after that, the NRC entered a long period of decline, inept management, and eventually a complete lack of maintenance of rail and locomotive assets. In 1988, NRC declared bankruptcy, and all rail traffic stopped for six months. After that, trains resumed, where the tracks were usable but by 2002, passenger service was again discontinued altogether. However, from 2006, plans were made to restore the rail lines and add new locomotives with foreign assistance. Then in December 2012 regular, scheduled passenger service was restored on the Lagos-Kano line.

Rail transportation is key to industrialisation; the founding fathers of the nation grafted the rail system into the plan and enlisted the country in the comity of industrialised nations. However, when they thought about the Ajaokuta Steel Company, they factored in the Ajaokuta-Itakpe-Warri rail lines. As part of the larger plan for the Ajaokuta project, the Itakpe-Warri rail line was conceptualised in 1983, particularly to transport products from the complex to Aladja Steel Rolling Mills, in Aladja, Delta State and the Warri Ports for onward export and the likes. The project otherwise called the central line was initially planned to be delivered in five years but was abandoned after the initial contractors, Julius Berger Nigeria Limited had constructed about 254 kilometres.  And for 35 years, the project remained moribund as was the case with the mother project, Ajaokuta Steel Company. When the idea was mooted, it was to freight iron ore from Itakpe, a city sitting on a resource which metric tonnage projected to last some centuries. There were several other mineral resources buried underground along the stretch, including dolomite, limestone, beside the abundance of agro produce within the zone. At conception, the line was to be the first standard gauge rail in Africa and one of the leading few across the world with the speed capacity of between 120 and 150 kilometres per hour. The plan was to dedicate the line for the exclusive use of Ajaokuta.

As an industrial line, it was a critical element in the nation’s march towards industrialisation, as it was meant to freight iron ore from Itakpe and Dolomite from Jakura to Ajaokuta Steel complex and to take liquid steel from Ajaokuta to service Aladja Steel Company. The line was also to take other finished materials to the seaport of Warri, from where other foreign components of the nation’s steel ambition would be brought in. Unfortunately, the project remained moribund for decades even after the initial investments in the range of millions of United States Dollars (USD) were pumped into the project. During the years of neglect, the initial contractors, Julius Berger Nigeria Limited pulled out of site. The neglect of the rail project by successive administration effectively stalled the nation’s quest for industrialisation. The neglect continued until the President Muhammadu Buhari administration decided to revisit the rail project in line with its plan to fix the nation’s economy with particular emphasis on diversifying the nation’s foreign exchange earnings from its age-long over-dependence on the oil sector. In recognition of the strategic importance of rail transportation, therefore, in 2017 Budget and the 2018 Budget proposal, the Federal Government provisioned more than 300 billion nairas for railway projects mainly at fifteen per cent counterpart funds to unlock additional concessionary funding from the Chinese Export-Import Bank.

Interestingly, while revisiting the need to resuscitate the rail project, the incumbent administration recognised the need to expand the scope of the project for optimum utilisation. To that end, the administration decided to expand the line from being exclusively for industrial goods to also include commercial passenger use. By this arrangement, 12 new stations were introduced into the project. While two of the stations were located between Itakpe and Warri, the others were cited in different locations between Ajaokuta and Warri. The stations are located in Itakpe, Eganiy, Adoke and Ajaoukuta, Itogbo, Agenebode and Uromi all of which were contracted to the China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC).  Buhari administration has achieved what successive administrations have failed to achieve in over three decades
 Culled from Nigeria Tribune Jan 31, 2019

Warri Itakpe Railway Central Line Project
The Economic importance to Esanland & Edo State

Number of Rail Stops in Esanland

Answer: 2 Rain stations in Uromi.

Image esanland.org: Uromi Station construction ongoing

Image esanland.org: Uromi Station construction ongoing

Image esanland.org: Uromi Station construction ongoing

Image esanland.org: Uromi Station construction ongoing

Though NRC (Nigeria Railway Corporation) plan to construct halt stations, along the rail corridor that are nearer to the communities for easy access, hopefully, Igueben and Ubiaja will have a halt station.

Image esanland.org: Igbanke Station construction ongoing

Amenities on the Rail Coaches:
1)    Train marshals who are armed policemen on every train coach and station
2)    Toilets
3)    Board games
4)    Entertainment TV screen
5)    Fully air-conditioned cars

Toilet facility
board games


Image esanland.org: Free ticket for a test ride

The train departs Aladja, Urjevwu Warri, Delta State by 8:00 AM to Itakpe Kogi State

ARRIVED Itakpe Kogi State by 1:30 PM

DEPART for Warri-Delta State by 2:00 PM

Image esanland.org: Itakpe Warri Rail Central Line
Image esanland.org: Train marshals

What are the economic benefits to Esanalnd, Edo State?

1)    Faster safer and cheaper movement of goods and services people

2)    Jobs creation

3)    Cheaper export of Commodities to Overseas and Northern Nigeria once Itakpe, Kogi State is connected to Warri Seaport and Abuja Kaduna line on its 2nd phase construction which has already awarded by the Federal Government.

4)    LGA/Private sector can build warehouses, stores, hotels etc close to stations for freight services to earn extra revenue. As these services are not yet available.

5)    The economic benefit is huge for Esanland/Local Government if properly utilized, especially in the area of value-added chains in agriculture. It means ease of agricultural export and produces through Warri Port. In terms of value-added chains, most agricultural produce can be produced in Esanland, Edo State thereby adding value instead of just exporting raw.

6)    Local Government need to have a well-coordinated development plan in their corridor for better economic revenue generation for the Local Council.

Image esanland.org: Agbor Station construction ongoing
Image esanland.org: Agbor Station construction ongoing

Image esanland.org: Agbor Station construction ongoing

Image esanland.org: Agbor Station construction ongoing

Image esanland.org: Agenegbode Station construction ongoing

Image esanland.org: Agenegbode Station construction ongoing

The Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line passes through the following communities in:

Delta State
 (Aladja, Urjevwu, Orhowhorun, Agbarho, Ovwori, Okpara Inland, Abraka and Urhonigbe),

In Edo State
(Idumuesah, Ewossa, Agbor, Ekpon, Igbanke, Isanlu, Ekehen, Uromi, Ubiaja, Aigere, Uzanu and Agenebode)

and in Kogi State (Nashe, Ajaokuta Steel Complex, and Itakpe).

A future extension of the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri line northwards by about 200km will take it through Lokoja, Abaji, Gwagwalada, Kuje up to Idu linking up with the existing Abuja-Kaduna line and the planned Kaduna-Kano line.

With the dredging of the River Niger from Bifurcation at Forcados up to Warri, it means in not too distant future, goods coming into Warri Port will find their way to Lokoja, Abuja, Kaduna and Kano.

Onitsha is just about 70km east of Agbor, the design of the Second Niger Bridge has already been modified to include a rail line at the centre, this means a 70km rail line will link Agbor and through the Second Niger Bridge to the Main Market in Onitsha.

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