His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, on Tuesday commissioned the Itakpe-Warri rail line and facilities for commercial operations. The President performed the commissioning virtually from his office in Abuja where interfaced live with the ceremony via telecast.
The nation’s leader’s appearance at the well attended event was heralded by a simultaneous rendition of the National anthem at both the President’s Office and at the Agbor Delta State physical venue of the commissioning ceremony.
On ground to receive the President was the Executive Governor of Delta State, His Excellency, Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa. Also in attendance at the event was the Executive Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki. The Honourable Minister of Transportation, the Rt. Hon. Amaechi Rotimi Chibuike as well as his counterpart from the Federal Ministry of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed were also present at the ceremony in Agbor. The Honourable Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Olorogun Festus Keyamo, SAN, was also prominently present at the event in Agbor. Traditional rulers from all across the Niger Delta region also graced the occasion, and the monarchs performed the traditional Kolanut presentation, support and breaking ceremony to the excitement, admiration and applause of the large number of citizens who thronged the venue of the ceremony.
Julius Berger Nigeria Plc was ably representated by a strong delegation led by the company’s Executive Director, Administration, Alhaji Zubairu Ibrahim Bayi, FNIOB. Bayi represented the Managing Director, Engr. (Dr.) Lars Richter, whom he said was unavoidably absent due to a pre-scheduled engagement for which he is presently outside the country.
Bayi, who said it was his singular honour and privilege to stand before the august gathering also said he was at the event in a representative capacity to deliver Julius Berger’s Managing Director’s goodwill message for the commissioning of the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Railway facilities. Dr. Richter, Bayi said, has asked him to convey his profound regrets for his absence at the event which he had very ernestly looked forward to attending personally. Bayi, thereafter, looked at the cameras and pointedly offered Dr Richter’s sincere congratulations the President for the success of the project. Bayi also extended Julius Berger’s felicitations to the “indefatigable Hon. Minister of Transport and his team as well as to the Nigerian nation on this epoch-making event”. The success of the project, Bayi said, “is a clear testimony of Mr President’s resolve to provide and improve lasting infrastructural amenities which impacts positively on lives of citizens across the length and breadth of this nation”.
Alhaji Bayi traced the history of the Itakpe – Ajaokuta –Warri railway project to 1987 when the Contract for the Construction of 51Km Railway line linking the Itakpe Iron Ore mine with Ajaokuta Steel Mill was awarded to Julius Berger, and was later extended to include from Ajaokuta to Warri (Aladja Steel Plant and Jetty).
The Contracts which were originally domiciled with the then Federal Ministry of Mines, Power and Steel, were eventually transfered to the Federal Ministry of Transport when the project was restructured to include transportation of passengers along Itakpe-Warri corridor in addition to the original concept of freight movement service for the steel industry.
The further expanded scope of work included construction of a section of Railway formation and laying of tracks from near Agbarho to Delta Steel Mill at Ovwian/Aladja; completion of 20 overpasses and bridges; and construction of Level crossings, hydraulic drainage structures and associated works.
Bayi, with joy, anounced to the gathering that, the 22Km track laying works from Ovu to Aladja has been completed; the overbridges and overpasses have also been successfully accomplished.
The completed Railway and railway service facilities, Bayi said, include the maintenance Workshop and Warehouse; the Vehicle Maintenance depot and Workshop; the Railway Trucks Refuelling Station; First Aid Station; and the furnished Railway Station Offices
Other completed works are the renovation and refurbishment of the Railway village, comprising of School building, Clinic, Recreational facilities, Fire Station, Police Station; and other ancilary buildings. “I am humbled to announce to this gathering that these structures mentioned above were constructed in accordance with international due diligence and best practice; a hallmark of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc”, said Bayi.
The Julius Berger Executive Director prayed that the end users of the facilities will put them to use with the highest maintenance culture as a guide with a view to justifying the huge investment made by the government to put up these structures and its services.
Bayi acknowledged the tremendously uncommon commitment of the Honourable Minister of Transport, the Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi and thanked him and his great team “for his kind and selfless work as well as nationalistic zeal, by which this project has been successfully realised”.
Bayi also expressed Julius Berger’s gratitude to all the hardworking civil servants, community leaders, suppliers, youths, members of the Press, the company’s highly valuable workforce and, indeed, to every stakeholder who in one way or the other, contributed to the success of the project. He climaxed his appreciation by offering his utmost gratitude to the Almighty God whose grace and mercy, he said, enabled all stakeholders to work safely and progressively to achieve the laudable project success.
While wishing everyone who attended the ceremony a safe return to their various destinations, Alhaji Zubairu Ibrahim Bayi prayed to the Almighty to continue to unite, guide, protect and bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.