A project which would have been the first of its kind in Africa upon its completion has turned out to be another case of abandoned project in our beloved country Nigeria.
Rivers state and its residents all envisioned a return to its former glory as the Garden city, when the Rivers state monorail project was announced in 2011; although there were a few who had concerns about implementation, efficiency, prioritisation, transparency and appropriateness of the project. But then, they must have had a little change on their stands when the construction of the monorail began in 2012. Everyone expected that at the end of the proposed project completion date 2015, the Treasure base of the Nation (Rivers state) will become the standard for transportation in the country. Little did they know that it was all a dream!
The famous Rivers monorail which is located at the heartbeat of the state was initially designed to ease traffic congestion in Port-Harcourt city as well as act as tourist attraction to generate revenue.
The project according to reports from The Nation newspaper was awarded at a cost of 50billion Naira. The 6.5 km monorail was to use the Intamin P30 monorail train; an electric driven train specially designed and most suitable for commuter services in cities. The train is the most recent model of its kind and characterised by modern design, spacious cabins and is equipped with large size door openings to grant easy access to passengers with luggage.
This is the same train and design used for the 4.7km Moscow monorail in Russia that costs about US$240 million dollars and is currently fully operational.
The route for the Rivers state monorail was to begin from Sharks Park and run to Waterlines covering a total distance of about 6.5km. The route included two segments – Phase 1A from Sharks Park to UTC Station (2.6km) and Phase 1B from UTC station to Waterlines (3.9km). There were also plans for further extension of the route.
Along the monorail route were six proposed stations namely;
- Sharks Park station
- Azikiwe station
- UTC station
- Isaac Boro station
- Garrison station and
- Waterlines station
Today, this awesome initiative and development to boost transportation in Rivers state have come to a halt. As of 2015, only 2.6km (Phase 1A) of the 6.5km monorail route that was awarded for 50 billion Naira was completed. It was also reported by The Nation newspaper that 33.9 billion Naira was expended for the construction of this phase 1A (2.6km).
The project was abandoned by Governor Nyesom Wike, who according to 2016 the Punch newspaper reports said that “Rivers people have told me not to touch the monorail project left behind by the other government.”
Many residents in the state wonder if the power tussle which was highlighted during the 2015 election between the present and former governor is the only reason for abandoning the project. Some have even blamed the abandonment of the project on the lack of accountability of the project funds. According to investigative reports By David O. Kuranga, Ph.D. in the March 20, 2016 edition of the Nigeria Voice, titled the Rivers Monorail Quagmire, it is reported that over US$400 million dollars was spent on the monorail project yet it has remained uncompleted and now even abandoned. This is far more than the amount spent on the more extensive, more sophisticated and even more travelled Moscow monorail system that is currently fully operational in Russia.
Also, Cross River State, who has a similar but functioning monorail system, only spent N5 Billion naira (US$36 million dollars) for its own construction. This is just 1/8 of the amount spent in the construction of the uncompleted and abandoned Rivers monorail.
A research conducted in 2018 by Kenneth Miebaka Oba from the Department of Civil Engineering, Rivers State University revealed that the failure of the project was based on two factors; cost and time (duration). Several parameters have been employed to measure the success/failure of construction projects, but three factors (time, cost and quality) have turned out to be the most widely and commonly used factors for determining or measuring the performance of any construction project.
The statistics from the above research showed that the project was not completed at the stipulated time, because the cost became unbearable and the project had already gulped huge amounts of money; which some blame on the economic issues of that time. This goes to show that there was no proper cost/benefit analysis of the project; which is one of the bases for which Governor Wike abandoned the project.
Infrastructure is the bedrock to developing any region. That is why it is disheartening to see abandoned projects like the Rivers monorail which would have been a great leap in the development of the state.
As the project continue to remain abandoned, it only but shows a waste of Rivers taxpayers’ monies which would have been used for other beneficial projects. We only but hope that the coming governments will see a need to revive the abandoned Rivers monorail.