President Muhammadu Buhari on July 12, 2018 commissioned the new Abuja light rail. The contract for the project was awarded to a Chines firm, CCECC by Mal. Nasiru El Rufai, the then Minister of FCT under the administration of former President Olusegun Obansonjo and with the Chines EXIM Bank as funding partner. The project went through several contract review under the 4 successive administrations in the 10 years of work. Wile commissioning the project, Mr President said, is the first phase of the rail line covering lot 1c and lot 3 totaling 24kms and 12 passenger stations within Abuja the federal capital territory. He noted that “a modern rail service would boost the economy and enhance social life”.
Mr President along with relevant ministers and other dignitaries later took a ride on the new, beautiful rail from the Abuja city center to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. According to the Minister of the FCT, Musa Bello, the Abuja rail is divided into six lots with a total length of 290km when completed. The commissioning of the rail meets the global efforts to diversify urban mobility from the individual car dependent mobility to sustainable, active, affordable and environmentally friendly mobility system. It addresses the mobility needs of all irrespective of the class, ability and age. It is hoped that the remaining lots 2,4 & 5 will be competed to address the tootling mobility challenges of FCT residents.
A visit to the Abuja city center station to take a ride on the light rail a week after the commissioning however showed a disappointing services; a talk with a few passengers indicated disappointments due to few number of trips, slow movement of the coaches of what was supposed to be a high speed rail among others. We hpe these challenges will be addressed as the operators perfect.