Port Harcourt - The Rivers Government confirmed on Wednesday that the multi-billion naira monorail project in Port Harcourt would not be abandoned.
Gov. Chibuike Amaechi gave the assurance in Port Harcourt at a public forum.
"The Rivers State Monorail Project and the Future of Public Transportation in Rivers: Issues and Challenges and Way Forward," Amaechi said. "The project is a reality."
The governor, represented by Mr George Feyi, Secretary to the State Government (SSG), said his government was committed to the completion of the monorail and solicited the people’s support.
Amaechi said that the most challenging problem confronting the world was how to move people in large number to their destinations.
"Monorail systems save people from traffic jams in the city. It saves the number of work hours that would have been lost in traffic," Amaechi said.
He said that a buoyant economy was dependent on efficient transport system and that the monorail project was anchored on its economic gains.
"The project will not be abandoned. We are looking at the future and not today," Amaechi said.
He said that Aba road, one of the major roads in the city, had always been plagued by traffic jams, but that more roads were being built to enhance traffic flow in the city.
In his address, Mr George Tolofari, Commissioner for Transport, said the state was becoming the hub of the South-South Geo-political Zone.
Tolofari said there was need to adopt a strategy to move large numbers of people from one point to another in a limited time.
He said it was not possible to have a modern business city without efficient modes of public transportation models that had the capacity to move people in large number.
The commissioner said the monorail project was adopted in line with the best global practices, advising those that had criticised it to exercise patience and await its completion.
Tolofari said that the government had constructed four mega transport terminals at different entry points in the city to ensure that inter-state public vehicles stopped at the terminals to avoid traffic jam in the metropolis.
The firm handling the contract, Arcus Gibb Nigeria, said the project would be completed in December, 2014.
Mr Wimpie Oosthuizen, director of Rail of the firm, said that the monorail would be completed in phases and that the first phase would commence operation in August, 2012.
The director added that the trains would be air conditioned, due to the hotness of the country and would have a speed limit of 70 kilometres per hour.
According to Oosthuizen, the monorail will reduce the pressure on commercial vehicles during the rush hours and will operate from 5:00 a.m. to 9.00 p.m. daily.