By Adeyinka Aderibigbe
President Muhammadu Buhari will on Tuesday inaugurate the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri standard gauge train, Nigeria’s first standard gauge system.
The Nation exclusively learnt that the President will virtually conduct the rail tracks and the train stations.
Confirming the development on Sunday, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) Managing Director Fidet Okhiria said the President will not be physically present but will conduct the inauguration virtually.
Okhiria said Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi will lead other members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) as well as other government functionaries at the event.
He said the inauguration will take place at the Goodluck Jonathan Train Station at Agbor, from where the inaugurators and others will take a short train ride to Abraka and back to Agbor, to signify the inauguration of the train and beginning of commercial operation on the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri corridor.
The Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri is Nigeria’s flagship and first standard gauge train, having been kicked off in 1983 (37 years ago) as an industrial line.
At conception, the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri standard gauge is meant to service the Ajaokuta Steel Complex, provide access to the billets and other raw materials at Itakpe, and to take the finished product (steel or liquid steel) from the complex to Onne Deep Sea Port in the outskirts of Warri.
The Buhari administration, in 2016, changed the corridor from an exclusive industrial line to a mixed service corridor, with the introduction of passenger service, which necessitated the injection of train stations into the project.