Nigeria’s Abuja Rail Mass Transit Begins Operations

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on July 13th, 2018

Abuja, Nigeria: The billion dollar metro style Abuja Light Rail initiated by the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua-Goodluck Jonathan government and under construction since 2007 finally began operation yesterday.

Incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday commissioned the 45.24 km Phase 1 portion of the Abuja light rail mass transit project.

Buhari, while delivering a keynote address at the light rail’s commissioning ceremony, hailed the project as a significant milestone in the history of Nigeria.

“I am very optimistic that a modern rail service would bring about a boost to the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) economy and greatly enhance social life,” said Buhari, who, thereafter, took a ride on the train.

The president also flagged off the rail’s railway services signalling the commencement of its operations in the federal capital territory (FCT).

Cosmas Uzodinma, spokesman to the FCT minister, had said in a statement that the 45.245 km standard guage rail line from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to the Abuja metro station is the first of its kind in West Africa.

Present at the inauguration were Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation, Muhammadu Bello, FCT minister alongside Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna state.

The billion dollar, approximately 60.67 kilometer metro style Abuja Light Rail project under construction since 2007 is being handed by China Civil Engineering And Construction Company (CCECC) though it’s China Railway Engineering Corporation division. It is financed in part through a concessional loan from the China Exim Bank.

The Project Manager, Mr Kong Tao, said earlier  while addressing newsmen who were on tour of the site at Idu, Abuja.

Tao said that the rail transit consisted of lots 1A and 3, covering 45km with 12 designed passengers’ stations.

“The rail linked the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, to the Central Business District. The line of the rail mass transit is double-track line of right side running, and standard-gauge is 1435mm. Work on the large scale project is going on smoothly,” he said.

Kong said the three available coaches can convey more than 300 passengers on a trip, while at least 1,000 people are expected to daily ride on the train.

It covers 12 stations, 21 operational offices, 13 bridges, 50 culverts and nine pedestrian overpasses.

The commissioning was preceded by a three-month test run, during which residents of Abuja beheld the new addition to the country’s transportation infrastructure.

Abuja is the capital city of Nigeria, located in the centre of the country, with some 4 million people. An estimated 700,000 passengers are projected to ride the Abuja Light Rail (ALR) on daily basis, when the first phase of the project takes off. The plan is to eventually link Abuja with satellite towns such as Nyanya, Kubwa, Mararaba and Lugbe.

The construction of the light rail and its use is expected to open up new towns and boost economic activities along the corridor of Gwagwa, Kalgoni, DeiDei, Kubwa, Kokoaba, Dasonga, Asa, among 12 satellite towns in the Nigerian capital city.

Ethiopia’s Addis Light Rail Transit (AA-LRT) became  the first light rail public transport system in sub Saharan Africa as Nigeria’s Abuja Light Rail, whose construction began in 2007, struggled to see completion.

The Ethiopian government  borrowed the funds in June 2011 from the Export-Import Bank of China at the 6-month Libor interest rate plus 2.6 percent and a grace period of three years, according to Ethiopian Finance Ministry data. State-owned contractor China Railway Engineering Corp. was the recipient of the export financing and completed construction in less than two years.

According to China Railway Engineering Corporation, CREC the Addis Light Rail Transit system carried on average 113,500 daily passengers in January 2016 with 153,000 passengers as highest passenger load during a single day. Service frequency was 10 minutes during peak hours on both lines and 20 minutes during off-peak hours.

The opposition PDP released a press statement (below) expressing displeasure with the current government for not giving it credit for a project it initiated.

“July 12.2018 Press Statement Abuja Light Rail Is Our Project. PDP Flays Buhari APC

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) flays President Muhammadu Buhari and his dysfunctional All Progressives Congress (APC) for attempting to claim credit for the Abuja Light Rail Project. even when Nigerians are aware that the project was conceptualized. initiated and policy-propelled by the PDP.

The party said President Buhari’s showboating and rush to commission the rail project. without giving credit to the PDP, even when his administration contributed nothing to the project. underscores his desperation to claim achievements made by others in a frantic bid to cover incompetence and failure of his administration.

It is crystal clear that President Buhari cannot comprehend the design. scope and utility projection of the rail project resulting in his hollow speech at the photo-op commissioning ceremony.

Is it not unfortunate that. after three years in office. President Buhari cannot boast of any development project conceptualized and executed by his administration in any part of the country resulting in his numerous face-saving stunts. including commissioning projects executed by others. amongst therm a bus stop in Lagos and a borehole in Jigawa states.

The PDP usually watch with amusement whenever President Buhari and the APC seek to claim credit for our achievements in various sectors. However. while we understand their predicament of having nothing in their scorecard ahead of the 2019 general elections. we state that poaching the achievements of others cannot help them inanyway.

It is even more pathetic that not only that the Buhari administration lacks the capacity to articulate and run any precise economic policy or project. it is also so inept that it cannot leverage on those handed over to it by the PDP. resulting in the helpless situation we have found ourselves as a people.

The PDP however urges Nigerians not to despair especially as the 2019 general elections offer them the firm opportunity to vote out this inept administration and return a development-oriented and competent government on the platform of the repositioned and rebranded PDP.

Kola Ologbondiyan National Publicity Secretary”

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