The multi-billion-naira Abuja Rail Mass Transit project which was abandoned for more than four years after being commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2018 may be completed in 12 months from now as the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has taken a step to rehabilitate and continue the project.
The project was originally designed to find concrete solutions to transportation challenges-heavy traffic in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and its environs since many residents of the FCT who reside in satellite towns and work within Abuja metropolis require transportation to and from work.
The railway project also became necessary because most people rely on private vehicles and mini-buses for transportation into the city and a ban on the use of commercial motorcycles has increased dependency on informal methods of transportation.
With the worrisome abandonment, the FCTA has estimated that it would spend N5 billion on the rehabilitation of vital equipment of the Abuja Rail Mass Transit (ARMT) system that was vandalised by hoodlums following its temporary shutdown to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
The FCT permanent secretary, Mr. Olusade Adesola, said when he flagged off the restoration of the transportation infrastructure on August 5, 2023 that the project would be delivered by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation Ltd (CCECC) in 12 months.
Adesola described the light rail as the lifeblood of Abuja, noting it would play a crucial role in easing transportation challenges of residents, and described vandalism of the equipment as a serious setback to the administration while assuring that the FCT would soon witness the return of a more efficient and reliable transportation system.
“The revitalisation of the Abuja Rail Mass Transit System is not just about repairing physical infrastructure; it is a testament to the resilience of our city and its people and a demonstration of our government’s dedication to creating an enabling environment for economic growth and social well-being,” he said.
The permanent secretary said contracts for the provision of security for the rail system had been awarded, adding the administration would take stringent measures to safeguard the asset and prevent vandals from undermining the essential public service.
The director of transportation, FCTA, Mr. Joseph Akinteye, said the Abuja light rail system Phase 1 which comprises Lots 1 and 3 made up of 77.775 km out of the six Lots designated by the transportation masterplan was awarded in 2007.
He, however, said only Lots 1 A and 3 made up of 45.245 km were completed in 2017, inaugurated in 2018, and followed by a trial operation service which lasted for 20 months.
“Unfortunately, the trial service ended abruptly in March 2020 due to the advent of COVID- 19 pandemic and its extent protocols, and the rehabilitation, when completed, would bring back the metro line services,” he said.
The managing director of CCECC, Mr. Wang Xixue, said the successful commencement of rehabilitation of the vandalised components of the system was critical to the development of the transportation system in the FCTA, and that rehabilitation would be completed as soon as possible.
According to him, the project would involve the rehabilitation of the vandalised components of Lot 1A and Lot 3, clear obstacles and pave way for resuming commercial operation of the light rail system.
“As a socially responsible company, we are concerned about the development of the public transport system in the FCT and within Nigeria. We will maintain close cooperation with relevant stakeholders to contribute to the development of an advanced public railway transport system,” he said.
The contractor is presently waiting to be mobilised by the FCTA to commence work.