President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, boasted that his administration had delivered on its electoral promises in the past three years in office.
Mr Buhari, who made this assertion in Abuja, while inaugurating $823 million Abuja Rail Mass Transit Project, assured Nigerians of Federal Government’s continued support for all the negotiations towards the realization of the rail system.
He said he had observed keenly other milestones his administration has achieved, especially in the areas of education, public utilities and infrastructure development, saying the inauguration of the project was another evidence that, “we are a government that delivers on its promises.”
Mr Buhari then urged the Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA, especially the management of the rail services, to ensure efficient operations, good customer service and maintenance culture in the operations punctuality of the rail.
He stressed that transportation is the live wire of any city, and was very optimistic that a modern rail service would bring about a boost to the FCT economy and greatly enhance social life.
According to him: “I am aware that what we have on the ground today are coaches meant to provide skeletal services as we await the main set of the rolling stock for full operations.
“The completion of this very important project is a dream-come-true. I commend the Minister of FCT 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.
“I have been briefed on the outcome of the Honourable Ministers of FCT and Finance recent visit to China, during which the Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs) and agreements for the procurements of the main rolling stock were signed.” He added.
He commended the efforts of the FCT minister, as well as the support and patience of the residents, while the government was working to improve the city’s transportation service.
The President also thanked the Government and people of China for their investment in the Nigerian economy, and the CCECC Limited- the Contracting Firm, for the quality of work and timely delivery of the project.
Mr Buhari further placed on record the Nigerian government’s appreciation to the Government of China and the EXIM Bank of China for their support on the rail system and many other projects currently being executed in Nigeria.
He was optimistic that the gesture would further cement the already existing cordial relations and developmental partnership between Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China.
In his speech, the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Muhammad Musa Bello, who had earlier intimated the gathering that the project gulped a whooping sum of $823 million, further said the FCT administration was working on phase two to cover a distance of 32.54km from Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway at Garki Area One via the transportation Centre to Gwagwa and from Bazango Station to Kubwa.
He said the Federal Executive Council, FEC, approved the project in 2017 for construction by CCECC at a cost of $1.3billion, hoping that the Minister of Finance would consider putting the key project in the next borrowing plans, while the Minister of Budget and National Planning would agree to it and the National Assembly would be approved it which the China Exim Bank would fund it as a mark of goodwill for the cordial relationship between the two countries.
While saying that the project would not have been completed without the support of President Buhari whose emphasis on completing ongoing infrastructure projects that have impact on the welfare of the citizens has been the guiding principle of the FCT administration, the minister, therefore, acknowledged with great appreciation the role played by past ministers of the FCT and their respective staff for initiating the project and nurturing it over the years.
Mr Bello explained that the rail system was an integral part of the FCT Transportation Master Plan designed primarily to transport a 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.
The minister said it was packaged into six lots planned for phased development, based on preferential demand and available financial resources, adding that the rail system was planned to integrate with the National Rail Network when eventually completed.
He stated that the rail tracks, signalling stations and other infrastructure were completed in December 2017, six months ago, and in line with international best practices, the FCT administration had spent two months testing the rail system without passengers, one month with passengers.
“I am pleased to state that the Federal Ministry of Transportation after working closely with our team of engineers, the Construction Company China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and the protect Consultants, Messrs Transurb Technical Ltd has granted the Abuja Rail Mass Transit Project (ARMT) (Lot 3 & Lot 1A) Safety Certificate for Commercial Operations.
“Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) in the implementation of the project and they have granted relevant approvals for operations.
“The project we are commissioning today is a reflection of the very cordial and brotherly relation Nigeria has with the People’s Republic of China. We are thankful for this and the role played by His Excellency, the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Zhou Pingjian.
“Our appreciation also goes to the China Exim Bank, the Consultants, the Contractors, CCECC and Julius Berger Plc handling projects in the Central Business District for timely completion of the access road to the station and the communities along the rail corridor and their leaders for the support they have rendered to this project.
“The Abuja rail is divided into Six Lots and with a total length of 290 kilometres. The Lots are: Lot3: From Transportation Centre via ldu industrial Zone ‘0 Nanmad’i Azikwe international Airport; Lot 4: From Kuje Satellite town to Karshi Satellite town with the remaining legs of the Transitway line 2; Lot 5: From Kubwa via Bwari to Suleja; and Lot 6: From Airport via Kuje and Gwagwalada to Dobi. Implementation of the project has been divided into phases, with phase one being what we are commissioning today (yesterday).
“The segment consists of Lot 1A & 3 with a total length of 45.3 kilometres. Lot1A: starts at ldu industrial Zone via Gwagwa-Diedie and terminates at Gbazango Station in Kubwa (18km). Both Lots connect at the ldu Station to enable easy passenger transfer with the National Rail line linking Kaduna and Abuja.
“The project cost US$823,540,545.87 funded 60% by the China- Exim Bank and 40% by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).
“Scope of work include 45.3km of double standard gauge rail tracks a maintenance deport, training school, operations control centre and 12 Stations, Abuja Metro Station, Stadium Station, Kukwaba I (National Park Station), Kukwaba ll (Ring Road Station), Wupa Station, Idu Station, Bassaniiwa Station, Airport Station, Gwagwa Station, Deidei Station, Kagini Station and Gbazango Station.
“The 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 explained.
In his remarks, the China Ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian, said Chine remained committed to its deal with Nigeria and indeed Africa to bring about new and greater opportunities.