The rebuilt railway line between the southern port city of Lagos and the Kano, located some 1,160 km away in the far north, was launched on 21 December. It saw the resumption of intercity passenger train services as well as the haulage of petroleum products.
The $166 million, six-phase modernisation project began in 2006 and was undertaken by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCCC) and local firm Costain West Africa.
The CCCC rebuilt the railway from Lagos to the central city of Jebba while the remainder of the railroad – about 320 kms from Jebba to Kano – was rebuilt by the Nigerian company.
In addition to upgrading the tracks, a number of bridges along the route were replaced with larger structures and anti-flood culverts were improved.
Speaking at the launch ceremony at the Lagos Ebute-Metta terminus, Nigeria’s transport minister Idris Umar hailed the new route as a "vital start-off" for the nation’s economy.
The reopening of the route had been delayed numerous times, with the most recent launch date scheduled for July 2012.
The line was first built in 1912 but by early 2011 about 70 per cent of the route was rendered unusable due to neglect and corruption.