Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is set to commission the recently-completed first phase of the Abuja light rail project and to to flag-off the railway services signalling the commencement of operations of the long-awaited rail services in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
A statement signed by the Chief Press Secretary to FCT Minister, Cosmas Uzodinma, stated that the 45.245 km standard gauge rail line from Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to the Abuja Metro Station is the first of its kind in West Africa.
According to the statement, the project had been in the works for over 11 years. Mr Cosmas added that the commissioning will mark formal commencement of rail service and the fulfillment of a long-awaited dream for a modern state-of-the-art mass transit system for the FCT.
Furthermore, the Transportation Secretary of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kayode Opeifa, expressed optimism that most of the transport gridlock in Abuja would soon disappear with the commissioning of the rail system. Opeifa, a former Commissioner for Transport in Lagos State, also allayed the fears that the transport situation in Abuja could relapse into a worse state.
“The Abuja rail system is as advanced as any in the developed world and it is designed to provide speed and comfort to the passengers within the FCT and serve as a delight to tourists,” said Opeifa.
Opeifa, disclosed that the project was financed through counterpart-funding with the China Export Import (Exim) Bank on the basis of 60% from the Chinese and 40% from the FCT administration,
He added that the project that took more than a decade to complete, having been flagged-off by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 2007, “will link 13 communities with 12 stations at the Abuja Metro, Stadium, Kukwaba 1 and 2, Wupa, Idu, Bassanjiwa, Airport, Gwagwa Dei-Dei, Kagini and Gbazango.”
He said that the rail system has modern facilities that include ultra modern edifices, modern shopping centres and eateries with the prospect of springing up further economic activities along the tracks and overall positive impact on the growth of the FCT, among others.