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Abuja mass transit rail to offer 2 months free ride beginning next Monday

Abuja mass transit rail to offer 2 months free ride beginning next Monday

Abuja residents will enjoy at least two months free ride on the much awaited Abuja metro rail line which is billed commence operations on Monday, May 27, Nyesom Wike, Minister Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has confirmed.

Wike gave the reassurance on Thursday as he co-briefed alongside some other cabinet ministers on the First Year achievement of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu Administration.

He mentioned that President Tinubu who is expected to Commission the rail project that day will also ride on it.

Many say that the rail line when it finally begins work will substantially ease transportation which has been a major challenge for residents in the capital city.

Wike also announced that commuters will enjoy free ride for two months on the rail and could be extended on the prerogative of the President.

Launched on 12 July 2018, Abuja Rail Mass Transit project, also known as Abuja Light Rail is the first rapid transit system not only in the country, but in the West African region. It is also the second such system in sub-saharan Africa.

The first phase of the project connects the city center to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, stopping at the Abuja-Kaduna Railway station in Idu.

Planned as a three-trains-per-day service, President Buhari had commissioned the project on July 12, 2018, but residents never rode on it because operations was shut down almost immediately.

The project which is the first rapid transit system in Nigeria, and the second in sub-saharan Africa after Addis Ababa Light Rail has suffered a few setbacks, largely blamed on funding by successive governments.

Aimed at solving the perennial transportation problem within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its adjoining towns and cities, the project was planned to run through six lots.

The $823m project – as earlier proposed though – remains a major infrastructure project in Nigeria’s capital city was first conceived in 1997 during Gen Sani Abacha’s regime, but was delayed due to funding issues. The proposal was to source up to 60 percent of that sum as loans from the Exim Bank of China.

However, hope was restored when the Federal Executive Council (FEC), under President Goodluck Johnathan on August 18, 2010, approved N1.26 billion ($841 million) contract for project management services in respect of the Lots 1-3 of the light rail transit project, under the supervision of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the then Coordinating Minister of Economy and Finance.

Yet after all the paperwork, which was never made public, construction work on lots 1 and 3 commenced, but the project remained largely abandoned.

The project was proposed to cover a total distance of 290 km (180 mi) to be developed in six phases or lots.

Wike had announced recently after inspection of the light rail that a total of $15 million, translating to more than N10 billion was spent on the rehabilitation of the Rail under his administration.

He also announced then that the project was ready for commercial operations.