5 Things You Don’t Know About Abuja Light Rail
So, on Thursday, President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the Abuja light rail.
At the ceremony, President Buhari said the project will impact on the people in terms of better transportation, job creation and enhance their social lives.
But the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is arguing that President Buhari should not take all the credit for the project.
Regardless on who takes the credit, Nigerian people are the true winners.
As we celebrate the completion of the first phase of the project, here are 5 things no one may have told you.
1. The Abuja Rail Projected Was Started By Former President Olusegun Obasanjo: The Abuja light rail project was started by the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in his second term.
In fact, Obasanjo performed the official groundbreaking ceremony in May 2007.
The project was originally linked to Nigeria's bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2014. However, lack of funds delayed its completion.
2. The Light Rail Project Was Financed With Chinese Money: The construction contract was awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, but as of November 2010, they had only received 20% of the promised amount from the government.
Eventually, the government entered into a deal with the Chinese government for access to a loan for the project and for the government to provide part funding.
3. Nigeria Still Owes The Construction Company: So, it was the Chinese Export and Import, EXIM bank that advanced the Nigerian government the $500 million that was used to fund the project.
But in the agreement, the federal government was supposed to provide 9 billion naira in counterpart funding.
As at Wednesday, 24 hours before the formal launch of the project by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Nigerian government had yet to settle the construction firm, China Civil Engineering Construction Company, CCECC.
The Managing Director of CCECC, Jack Li told journalists on Wednesday said “the counterpart funding of 9 billion naira from the government has not been paid” while lamenting that “inconsistent funding” was a major challenge to the effective execution of the project.
4. The Abuja Light Rail Is The First In West Africa: In recent years, there have been massive modern rail projects in Africa, mostly spearheaded by the Chinese.
So, there is light rail in Nairobi, Kenya, and even Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. But in the West African sub-region, there was none, until Thursday's launch.
5. The Abuja Light Rail Project Only Connects Abuja Airport To The City Centre: The 45.2KM Abuja light rail is a three-dimensional traffic network rail system that runs from the West to the Airport Station at the Abuja International Airport and east to Abuja Metro Station at the Abuja Transportation Centre downtown.
With eight stations, Lot 3 mainly serves the passengers from the Airport to city centre, and those transferred from Lot 1A to the Airport or to the city Centre.
IDU Station is designed as an interchange station where passengers can transfer between Lot 3 and Lot 1A or between Abuja Light Railway and National Railway (Abuja-Kaduna railway).