By LAIDE AKINBOADE
President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, commissioned completed Lots 1A and 3 of the Abuja Light Rail system, with a call on the Federal Capital Territory Administration, (FCTA), especially, the management of the rail services, to ensure efficient operations, good customer service and maintenance culture in the operations of the rail.
He said the completion of this very important project was a dream come-true and also reiterated his administration’s continued support for all the negotiations towards the realisation of the Abuja Light Rail system.
According to him, “Today, what we have in the Federal Capital Territory is another evidence that we are a government that delivers on its promises. I have observed keenly other milestones that this Administration has achieved, especially in the areas of education, public utilities and infrastructure development.
“This accomplishment clearly demonstrates the commitment of this administration to addressing critical infrastructural projects and keeping with the ideals of the Change Agenda to ensure prudence in the management of public resources, value for money considering the huge investments in this project.”
He pointed out that transportation is the life wire of any city and expressed optimism that a modern rail service would bring about a boost to the FCT economy and greatly enhance social life.
“I am aware that what we have on ground today are coaches meant to provide skeletal services as we await the main set of the rolling stock for full operations.
“l have been briefed on the outcome of the Hon. Ministers of FCT and Finance’s recent visit to China, during which the MOUs and agreements for the procurement of the main rolling stock were signed,” he said.
President Buhari commended the minister for the hard work and sense of purpose towards the realisation of the long awaited modern transportation system for both the FCT residents and visitors and also expressed the Nigerian government’s appreciation to the Government of China and the EXIM Bank of China for their support on this and many other projects currently being executed in the country.
He also thanked the Government and people of China for their investment in the Nigerian economy and the CCECC Limited – the Contracting Firm, for the quality of work and timely delivery of this project and Nigerian Consultants, Messrs Transurb Technirail Consult Limited for their services.
Earlier in his address of welcome, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammad Bello said the project cost about US$823,540,545.87 funded 60 percent by the China- Exim Bank and 40 percent by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).
According to him, the FCTA has also taken delivery of the three coaches meant for initial operations while awaiting the arrival of the rolling stock of 48 coaches.
To this effect, he said the FCTA has concluded an infrastructure soft loan agreement with Exim Bank of China for the supply of the remaining coaches, including their maintenance for three years at a cost of US$194,008,602.43. The Bank would fund the project to the tune of US$157,001,049.89 (85%), while the FCTA would bring in a counterpart fund of US$37,007,552.54 (15%).
The minister added that the scope of the work commissioned was the phase 1 of the Abuja Rail Mass Transit Project (ARMTP), which includes 45.3km of double standard gauge rail tracks, a maintenance deport, training school, operations control centre and 12 Stations, Abuja Metro Station, Stadium Station, Kukwaba I (National Park Station), Kukwaba ll (Ring Road Station), Wupa Station, Idu Station, Bassaniiwa Station, Airport Station, Gwagwa Station, Deidei Station, Kagini Station and Gbazango Station.
The Abuja rail system is packaged into 6 Lots planned for phased development, based on preferential demand and available financial resources The Abuja Rail Mass Transit System is planned to integrate with the National Rail Network when eventually completed.
Bello stressed that, the FCTA is working on phase ll of the Abuja Rail Mass Transit Project to cover a distance of 32.54km from Nnamdi Azikwe Expressway at Garki Area l via the transportation Centre to Gwagwa and from Gbazango Station to Kubwa.
He said the Federal Executive Council approved the project in 2017 for construction by CCECC at a cost of US$1.3billion. We hope that the Minister of Finance would consider putting this key project in the next borrowing plans, the Minister of Budget and National Planning would agree to it, the National Assembly would approved it and that China Exim Bank would fund it as a mark of goodwill for the cordial relationship between our two countries.
Mohammed thanked His Excellency the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Zhou Pingjian for the kind gesture.
According to him, this project would not have been completed without the support of Mr. President whose emphasis on completing ongoing infrastructure projects that have impact on the welfare of the citizens has been the guiding principle of the FCTA.
Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Zhou Pingjian, in his good will message, said the project will increase the bilateral relationship of the two countries.