Realizing potential of Abuja rail
Recently, the Federal Capital Territory Administration commissioned the 11 years old Abuja rail mass transit project to ease transportation challenges in the territory. In this report, our correspondent, Austine ELEMUE examines the significance of the project.
The long-awaited Abuja rail mass transit project which commenced in 2007 was finally commissioned on July 12 by President Muhammadu Buhari with pomp.
To make the project a reality, the Federal Capital Territory Administration worked tirelessly to ensure that the contractor handling the project (Lots 1A & 3), Messrs CCECC Nigeria Ltd, delivered on schedule.
The contract for the Abuja Rail Mass Transit Project, which was jointly financed by the FCT Administration and China EXIM Bank, was awarded on May 25, 2007 but work commenced two years later, precisely on May 28, 2009.
The project which was originally designed as a 60.67km rail track was later revised in a contract argumentation to 45.245km while the contract sum was scaled down from $841,645,898 to $823,540,545.87 in accordance with the contract argumentation.
The initial project completion period was forty-eight months but later shifted to December, 2015. However, by the time this administration inherited the project in 2015, it has suffered several delays due to poor funding and left at 54 percent completion stage.
On assumption of office, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration ensured that the contractor accelerated efforts towards completing the project, and the target has been met according to plan. There are several factors that led to the decision to embark on this historic project in the FCTA.
Apart from the fact that the rail project will bring Abuja, Nigeria’s capital at par with other major cities across the world in terms of infrastructural development, it will serve as a connecting link between the Abuja capital city and the surrounding satellite towns and communities when fully completed.
In other words, it will integrate the entire Federal Capital Territory, as well as provide easy access to visitors from across the country.
One significant feature of the new Abuja rail system is the modernity of its facilities which are all ultra-modern edifices with provisions for modern shopping centres and eateries comparable to the ones in Europe and America.
Other benefits accruing from the Abuja rail mass transit project include providing FCT residents with efficient, safe and orderly transportation system. It will also reduce travel times for the residents as well as provide them with an environmental-friendly transportation system while also enhancing social, political and economic activities between the satellite towns and the Federal Capital City.
More importantly, it will reduce traffic congestions in the city, especially with the daily influx of visitors from within and outside Nigeria. The three coaches and one locomotive which are now being commissioned were procured for the test run of the project. The ultra-modern coaches have a total capacity of 390 passengers with each having a carrying capacity of 130 persons.
Also, twelve stations namely: the Abuja Metro, Stadium, Kukwaba I & II, Wupa, Idu, Bassanjiwa, Aiport, Gwagwa Dei-Dei, Kagini and Gbazango which traverse the rail-line corridor have been completed and are ready for commercial operations.
Key components of the project include the construction of a permanent way, subgrade cutting and filling stations and buildings; structures like railway bridge, flyover bridges on roads; frame bridges and other major components of the project include communication and signaling; power and water supply; provision of locomotives and rolling stock depot.
Other features of the project are the construction of 45.245 kilometer length of double track rail line with a standard gauge of 1435mm. The project also boasts of culverts and four frame bridges. In addition, there are thirteen railway bridges, seven pedestrian overpass, one rolling stock depot and fifteen flyover bridges on roads.
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration, Malam Muhammad Bello, deserves commendation for the special interest he has shown and continues to do in the project since his assumption of office.
His tenacity and hard work has ensured that the vision of President Buhari’s administration in using the railways to ease the transport needs of Nigerians and FCT in particular has come into fruition.
Indeed, the project was further accelerated with the appointment of the FCT Transport Secretary Mr. Kayode Opeifa.
His painstaking efforts to ensure a diligent and timely completion of the project attests to the aesthetic beauty of the project and the ultimate realisation of the long-awaited mass transit rail project in the territory.