President Buhari to commission $823.5m Abuja light rail on Thursday

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President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to commission the recently-completed first phase of the Abuja light rail project on Thursday, July 12, 2018.He is also expected 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 45.245km standard guage 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. He said the commissioning would 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.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Secretary of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Kayode Opeifa, yesterday expressed optimism that most of the transport gridlock in Abuja would soon disappear with the commissioning of the rail system on Thursday.Opeifa, a former Commissioner for Transport in Lagos State, who spoke with The Guardian, allayed the fears that the transport situation in Abuja could relapse into a worse state.

According to him: “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.”

Opeifa, who disclosed that the project was financed through counterpart-funding with the China Export Import (Exim) Bank on the basis of 60 per cent from the Chinese and 40 per cent from the FCT administration, said 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 added 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.

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