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Abuja Rail Mass Transit takes off Thursday after 11 years

After 11 years since initiation, the Abuja Rail Mass Transit system commences operation Thursday.

This is as President Muhammadu Buhari commissions the recently completed first Phase of the Abuja Light Rail Project on Thursday.

Buhari also flags – off the railway services signalling the commencement of operations of the long-awaited rail services in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Abuja.

Muhammad Bello, Minister of Federal Capital Territory said, the Phase, which comprises Lots 1A and 3, is only an integral part of the six Lots which form the scope of the FCT railway system.

Bello announced that the event takes place in the Abuja Metro Station, in the Central Business District – the flagship of the twelve completed railway stations under this package.

He explained that the 45.245km of standard guage rail line running between the Dr, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport to the Abuja Metro Station is the first of its kind in West Africa.

According to a Statement by Chief Press Secretary to the Minister, Cosmas Uzodinma, “the project, which was completed by the present Administration, has been in the works for over 11 years.

“Inherited at 63 percent completion, the remaining 37 percent was fast-tracked to completion within the two years of the current Administration by dint of resolute commitment to prudent management of resources.

“The commissioning would mark formal commencement of rail service and the fulfilment of a long awaited dream for a modern state-of-the-art mass transit systems for the FCT”, he said.

Meanwhile, the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA has solicited the partnership of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC to ensure a hitch free operation of the Abuja rail mass transit system.

In a meeting with officials of NRC ahead of the take off of the rail transport services, FCT Minister, Muhammad Bello stated that the administrMala would require the support, supervision and guidance of the regulators for a smooth take-off.

Bello, who disclosed that some skeletal staff have already been employed to start some of the operations, added that the expertise and experience of NRC would also be indispensable.

“Based on your observations and your guidance, we will really appreciate support from you so that we start a skeletal thing as we don’t want a situation whereby Mr. President commissions the project on the 12th of July and we just shut up shop.

“We intend to run it from the Airport to the Central Business District gradually for the people to know about it and for us to go through the learning curve”, the Minister stated.

Responding, General Manager of NRC, Fidet Ohiria, pledged the support of the Corporation towards the successful running of the Abuja Light Rail Project through capacity building, personnel and certification.

According to Ohira, though the law permits states to run railways, the NRC is willing to support the efforts by giving the needed support and ensuring effective regulation of the industry.

 

James Kwen, Abuja

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