Governor Sullivan Chime
Few years ago vehicular traffic was unheard of in Enugu City, the capital of Enugu state, but with the upsurge of socioeconomic activities, increasing population, the residents now face gridlocks at peak hours. The government of the state has moved to address the nagging problem by proposing a monorail. Chinedu Eze unveils the planned development project
Ideally part of the gains of democracy is that the head of government elected by the people should fulfil the desires and aspirations of the citizens and play the leadership role by using his vision to provide better life for the people.
In Nigeria, there is always great development at every bout of democratic governance. In spite of severe criticism, the return to civil rule since 1999 has brought invaluable gains in various aspects of development in Nigeria, from physical development to human progress, and it has provided the bedrock of competitive development among states, especially with the present regime, which took up governance since 2007.
In Enugu state, the people have applauded the developmental goals being achieved by the present government in the last five years, which include the transformation of the Enugu metropolis.
To respond to the yearnings of the people, the Governor of the state set out last year to solve the nagging and almost intractable problem of traffic jam; an issue which developed recently in the capital city, inflicting frustration and stress on the residents.
Memorandum of Understanding
In January 2010, Globim Corporation, a Canadian company, and the Enugu State government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would allow Globim to build the state’s first monorail system in Enugu.
This was followed by a formal agreement on August 4, 2010. Key to being awarded the contract was the internationally recognised expertise of Globim’s personnel in railway engineering and vast combined experiences of over 150 years with financing, manufacturing, building, managing and operating profitable rail systems within North America.
The Chairman of Globim Corporation, Dr. Jude Igwemezie, told THISDAY that the Enugu state government needed to find a viable, sustainable, profitable, and affordable solution to deal with movement of people within Enugu city; hence the project.
Igwemezie said Governor Sullivan Chime’s vision to bring modern transportation to his people would start with the monorail project in the city of Enugu, which is the phase one that would serve as a prelude to similar project that would be extended to other parts of the state.
An engineer, he explained to THISDAY, “Phase-I of the Enugu monorail system will be approximately 21km in length including the spur to the maintenance depot and will link key population centres of Gariki, Achara Layout, Coal Camp and Uwani with active business centres and intercity bus depots.
“Each train will hold up to 550 passengers and cruise at a speed of 80 km per hour. At an initial Phase-I cost estimate of $246 million (about N36.9 billion), it will be the lowest cost of any monorail of similar size and/or capacity ever built,” he added.
He said that phase-I of the system was expected to be completed within 36 months, noting that since the creation of Enugu State, demands on the existing transportation infrastructure and network for the movement of people in Enugu have been in the upswing.
“Current levels of congestion on the road system are difficult to estimate; however, they are anticipated to get worse given the expected increase in local population resulting from political stability, more rural urban migration in search of jobs and the opening of the new Enugu international airport.”
The Monorail and Globim
The mission of the project, Dr. Igwemezie, noted was to provide turnkey infrastructure projects that would be managed on a viable, efficient, and sustainable basis and to benefit from Globim’s integrated multimodal transportation systems across the globe, while harnessing indigenous expertise to build sustainable and successful infrastructure projects and provide technology transfer.
He described the monorail as a transportation system based on vehicles running on a single track, which acts as its sole support and guideway.
“The term is also used variously to describe the beam of the system, or the vehicles travelling on such a beam or track. The term originates from the contraction of the words mono (single) and rail.
“Monorails have unique advantages over transit systems running at ground level because they are very efficient and attractive, require no terra forming, never derail, never crash with cars, never run over people and can be integrated into any crowded urban landscape,” he explained.
He also said that the monorail could blend well with a small environmental foot print, is cheaper to build and maintain, and is also profitable operations if properly built and managed.
Igwemezie said that there was need for the transit system in Enugu city because of the anticipated growth of population and high economic activities.
“Since the creation of Enugu State, demands on the existing transportation infrastructure and network for the movement of people in Enugu have been in the upswing. Current levels of congestion on the road system are difficult to estimate.
“However, they are anticipated to get worse given the expected increase in local population resulting from political stability, more rural urban migration in search of jobs and the opening of the new Enugu international airport,” he added.
The Globim Chairman said that objective of the Enugu monorail was to provide affordable, reliable, frequent and efficient transportation to Enugu residents and visitors.
“This means that any new monorail transportation system must have reasonable and affordable fare structures that are competitive with all other current road transport forms,” he observed.
In justifying the project in the ‘Coal City’, he said Enugu city has a wealth of Nigerian government investments in its infrastructure and institutions including those of higher learning.
“Enugu also boasts a number of universities and technical institutes, and secondary and primary schools. These institutions provide a steady supply of government worker and student commuters. As a result, the city is still viewed as the de facto capital of the Eastern region of Nigeria.”
Igwemezie explained that the population of Enugu State was estimated at 3.3 million, recalling that in 2010, the population of Metro Enugu encompassing Abakpa Nike, New Haven, Asata, Uwani, Obiagu, Ogui, New Layout, Independence Layout, Achara Layout, Kenyatta, Secretariat, Coal Camp, Gariki, Emene, Ekulu, Onoh Quarters, Thinkers Corner and other surrounding areas, was estimated at 1.6 million people.
Current Intra-city Transport
Currently, Enugu has motor parks (garages) located at Ogbete and Gariki where most intercity transport vehicles load and unload passengers. This is a multitude of private operators that cater specifically to intra-city travellers and local commuters.
These include scooters and bicycles, motorcycles (Okada), motorised tricycles (Keke Napep) taxis, mini buses with sitting capacity of 14 passengers, mid-sized buses with combined sitting and standing capacity of up to 57 passengers, large buses with combined sitting and standing capacity up to 91 passengers; and there is no dominant player in the market.
The Chairman of Globim said his company was committed to realising Enugu’s vision of its future transportation by delivering a viable economic and self-sustaining monorail solution.
This comprises of 21km (of equivalent single track) monorail running from Gariki and along Agbani Road to Coal Camp and through the UNTH to Ogbete market and through Zik Avenue, return to Agbani road and closing the loop at Enugu- Umuahia Express Way.
The project, he said, entails finance, survey, design, construction, and operating the line; a 30 years concession period, from time of initial opening and operation of the line and that most guide-way components would be pre-cast and assembled on site.
“There is going to be initial five to six minute headway between trains, five-car trains with capacity of 500 to 550 people/train travelling up to 80 km/hr based on station distance; trains will be electrically powered on a straddle beam system and train power will be provided by diesel generators strategically located along the lines. The total estimation of the project completion is 36 months.”
Igwemezie also disclosed that the topography of Enugu makes it difficult to find substantial flat land, and that after several outings and meetings with Enugu State Government officials, the location of the depot that would service Phase-1 was determined.
“Unfortunately, the depot land included Akwuke secondary school. Our depot layout has the new maintenance and office building located where the main old school building currently is.
“The ESG (Enugu State Government) has agreed to provide land on the east side of the road for a new school. While it is their obligation to relocate the students, Globim as part of its social responsibility, has offered a goodwill gesture to provide a new and modern school for the soon to be displaced children”, he added.
He said that the new school would have modern classrooms, air conditioning in the classes, modern toilet facilities, cafeterias, library, science laboratories, assembly and steady supply of electricity from the company.
Enugu, the capital city of Enugu State, Nigeria was a mining town with significant coal deposits. It is less than four driving hours from Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri, all coastal cities with major shipping ports.
It is also within an hour’s drive from Onitsha, one of the biggest commercial cities in Africa, and two hours’ drive from Aba, another very large commercial city, both of which are trading centres in Nigeria.
The city is also located within five driving hours from Abuja and seven driving hours from Lagos, the administrative and commercial headquarters of Nigeria, respectively.