—Commissions $823.5m Abuja Light Rail
—Phase 2 of Rail Mass Transit to cost $1.3bn—Bello
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday enthused that his administration was delivering on its promises to the people as it had achieved great milestones since its inception.
President Buhari who stated this when he commissioned phase 1 of the Abuja Rail Mass Transit Project, ARMTP, which cost $823.5 million at the Abuja Metro Station, said that commissioning of the project was another evidence that his government was delivering on its promises.
He said that the government had made great strides in the areas of education, public utilities and infrastructure development.
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.
“The completion of this very important project is a dream come-true . I commend the Hon. Minister of F.C.T for the hard work and sense of purpose towards the realization of this long awaited modern transportation system for both FCT residents and visitors.
“This accomplishment clearly demonstrates our commitment 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.
“Transportation is the live wire of any city. I am very optimistic 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.
“I have been briefed on the outcome of the Hon. Ministers of F.C.T and Finance recent visit to China, during which the MOUs and agreements for the procurements of the main rolling stock were signed.
“May I therefore assure Nigerians of Federal Government’s continued support for all the negotiations towards the realization of the Abuja Light Rail system.
“I am thankful to the Government and people of China for their investment in the Nigerian economy. I commend the CCECC Limited – the Contracting Firm, for the quality of work and timely delivery of this project.”
President Buhari expressed appreciation to the Chinese government and the EXIM Bank of China for their support to the project and other projects currently being executed in the country.
“This gesture further cements the already existing cordial relations and developmental partnership between Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China,” he stated.
He urged the FCT Administration, especially, the management of the rail services, to ensure efficient operations, good customer service and maintenance culture in the operations punctuality of the rail.
In his address, the Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello stated that the Rail Mass Transit System was an integral part of the FCT Transportation Master Plan designed primarily to transport large number of commuters and goods between Satellite Towns into the Metropolitan Public Transport system and the different Phases of the Federal Capital City (FCC).
He explained that the rail system was packaged into six Lots with total length of 290 kilometers, planned for phased development, based on preferential demand and available financial resources, adding that it was planned to integrate with the National Rail Network when eventually completed.
He said all the Lots connect at the Idu Station to enable easy passenger transfer with the National Rail line linking Kaduna and Abuja.
He said, “The project cost US$823,540,545.87 funded 60% by the China – Exim Bank and 40% by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).”
The Minister also said that the scope of work include 45.3km of double standard gauge rail tracks, a maintenance deport, training school, operations control centre and 12 Stations.
“The Federal Capital Territory Administration (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, 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%), he stated.
Bello informed that the rail tracks, signalling, stations and other infrastructure were completed in December, 2017 and that in line with International best practices, the FCT administration has spent two months testing the rail system without passengers, one month with passengers.
He said that the Federal Ministry of Transportation after working closely with its team of Engineers, the Construction Company China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and the project Consultants, Messrs Transurb Technirail Ltd has granted the Abuja Rail Mass Transit Project (ARMT) (Lot 3 & Lot 1A) Safety Certificate for Commercial Operations.
“We have also worked and are working closely with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) in the implementation of the project and they have granted relevant approvals for operations.
“The FCTA is working on phase II of the Abuja Rail Mass Transit Project to cover a distance of 32.54km from Nnamdi Azikwe Expressway at Garki Area I via the Transportation Centre to Gwagwa and from Bazango Station to Kubwa.
“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.”