The Minister of Transportation, Mr.Chibuike Amaechi has said that the only difference between narrow and standard guage rail line was the speed.
The Minister was reacting to those who felt it was unfair to have narrow guage rail lines along the Port Harcourt Maidugri rail line compared to standard guage lines done for other rail projects.
In a statement by his Media Assistant,Mrs.Taiye Edeni,says the Eastern rail line was going to have both the Narrow Gauge and the Standard Gauge, but due to the cost of the standard gauge and what is feasible to embark on it, it was cheaper to rehabilitate the Narrow Gauge which was about $3.2billion dollars which can be delivered within the approved time frame of thirty six months.
Mr.Amaechi said that the Standard Gauge lines was going to cost about 11 to 14 billion dollars to and getting the funds within the limited time was not feasible because of other projects awaiting funding.
“The Standard Gauge line is between $11 to 14billion dollars to contruct on the Eastern flag, the standard gauge as designed in Nigeria is 150km design speed, operational speed is 120km, what is the difference between 120km and 100km? The Narrow Gauge is about $3.2billion dollars at 100km Per hour.
” The Standard Gauge which is at $11 to $14billion dollars, is 120km Per hour, so if you take off with the standard gauge let say to Damaturu, you will arrive 20minute before me that use the Narrow Gauge.
” The Narrow Gauge is cheaper $3billion against the $11 to 14billion dollar to contruct the standard gauge. Why we did not get the approval for the Narrow Gauge on time was because the President insisted on the standard gauge from Port Harcourt-Maiduguri, my argument was if I can achieve the same length of rail with $3billion dollars why not take that first until when we get money, we can now go for the standard gauge.
“Which made him approve the standard gauge as designed but until we get the money because if we continue to wait until we get the $11bn to 14billion dollars, we may not be able to construct the Eastern flag before we leave government.”
The Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC),Mr.Fidet Okhiria said that the Narrow gauge line was not outdated or less efficient emphasising that comparisons between narrow and standard guage lines was not necessary.
He said that Nigeria was the first African country to introduce standard gauge line, and that South Africa and other Africa countries still use the Narrow Gauge lines.