The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the award of contracts for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri eastern narrow gauge railway, with new branch lines and trans-shipment facilities.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, made this known when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the 18th virtual meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
The meeting was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Wednesday.
The minister also revealed that the Council approved the construction of a new deep seaport in Bonny, under a Private-Public-Partnership (PPP) arrangement and the construction of a railway industrial park in Port Harcourt.
“The Federal Executive Council today, approved the award of contract for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri Eastern Narrow Gauge Railway, with new branch lines and trans-shipment facilities.
“It also approved the construction of a deep seaport in Bonny under PPP and the construction of a railway industrial park in Port Harcourt.
“The railway line will be built at the cost of $3,020,279,549. The industrial park, which is under PPP, at no cost to federal government, will cost $241,154,389.31.
“The Bonny deep seaport will cost $461,924,369, at no cost to the Federal Government.
“The Port Harcourt to Maiduguri narrow gauge railway will have new branch lines: from Port Harcourt to Bonny and from Port Harcourt to Owerri.
“There is another one connecting to the narrow gauge and the standard guage at Kafanchan.
“There is a branch line from Gombe or before Maiduguri to Damaturu and Gashua. That’s what has been approved,’’ Amaechi said.
Also speaking, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, said the Council approved N653.8million to procure and deploy hybrid spectrum monitoring system that would cover the South East zone of the country.
He said that the approval followed the presentation of an investigative report by the ministry to the Council on the use of illegal frequencies, adding that 106, out of the 320 frequencies being operated across the country, were illegal.
Pantami, therefore, expressed the hope that the deployment of the new hybrid spectrum would go a long way in promoting safety and security, while boosting the nation’s revenue and creating many jobs for the citizens.
“From January to August 2020, within the period of eight months, we discovered 320 frequencies being used all over the country, and of these 320 frequencies, 106 were illegal.
“This is very worrisome because the usage of this illegal spectrum or frequencies will compromise our security and safety in the country.
“It is because of the agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari of promoting security that we came up with this initiative of monitoring the usage of frequencies and we uncovered the legal and the illegal ones.
“For the legal ones, they should ensure they renew their licences annually and for the illegal ones, necessary actions are being taken against them, according to the gravity of the offence.
“We discovered that our monitoring did not cover the South East. It covered five zones – North East, North West, North Central, South West and South South. Therefore, the South East has not been covered.
“It is because of this that we presented our memo, seeking for Council’s approval of N653,886,584 to procure and deploy hybrid spectrum monitoring system that will cover the southern part of the country, most importantly the South East.
“So, Council approved funds for the deployment. This project will go a long way in promoting safety and security. Secondly, we will be able to identify the usage of illegal spectrum.
“Thirdly, the project will enhance revenue for the Federal Government and fourthly, in the long run, it will create many jobs for the citizens.’’