Nigeria Railway Starts Work to Link Bonny Port to Eastern Line
By Chuks Emele
Work has started to connect Nigeria’s eastern railway line to a proposed deep-sea Port on Bonny Island and reconstruct its narrow-guage line to Maiduguri.
Apart from Bonny, other urban centres to join the rail network for the first time are Onne and Owerri, while linking old rail towns in Abia, Enugu, Benue, Plateau before giving way to the northeast route through Goniri, Gashua and Maiduguri, according to a statement by the Transport Ministry.
The development of a port on Bonny Island, to help delivery and receiving of goods to and from the interior, marks a significant departure from the practice of the past five decades of neglecting the southeastern ports while undermining rail transportation.
In what seemed to be one of the unofficial outcomes of the Nigerian Civil War, ports to the southeastern parts of the country, such as Calabar, Bonny and Warri, as well as the Niger River, that have played crucial roles in commerce for centuries, were neglected and abandoned by successive governments.
Instead, Lagos got all the attention as the former capital’s ports were even expanded at Apapa, with a new one built at Tin Can Island. All these helped contribute to the congestion of the city, which resulted in shipments facing prolonged delays whether going in or out of the Lagos ports.
The flag off of the Bonny port construction in addition to plans to transport cargoes to Onitsha using the Niger River, all point to increased decentralization of ports activities that is bound to improve efficiency and cargo throughput.