By Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) has finally taken delivery of three coaches for the trial operations of the Abuja Light Rail Project.
FCTA Transport Secretary, Kayode Opeifa, gave the indication while speaking with journalists.
The end of last year’s projection for the take-off of light train operation in FCT was not met apparently because of delay in clearing the coaches for at the Lagos Port.
Opeifa said the three ultra-modern coaches that were delivered from China have the capacity for 390 passengers, arrived about the same time with the Kaduna rolling stocks that were launched at the end of last year.
According to him, two phases of trial run, in compliance with international due diligence and professional standards, would be carried out before the arrival of the regular passenger coaches needed for the formal commencement of full operations.
Technical operators would conduct the first trial while a follow up test run would involve the passengers.
However, he said while these are being awaited, the test-run coaches would be rolling with passengers.
The transport secretary said when the rail service begins full scale operation, between 120,000 and 200,000 passengers would be conveyed daily in the 20 coaches planned in the loop.
He, however, clarified that the coaches would not be introduced in a fell swoop but progressively ramped up to reach the maximum number.
The 12 stations traversing the rail-line corridor including the main hub at Idu, and the Central Railway Terminal behind the Abuja World Trade Centre are already complete.
Also completed are the rolling stock depot and maintenance base at Idu, fitted with modern railway coaches repair facilities plus communication and signaling centres.
Opeifa also reiterated that work on Phase 2 of the Abuja Light Rail Project which begins at Gwagwa and ends in Area 1 would be ramped up this year. This, he said is because the first phase of the project is as good as “a done deal.”
The rail lines would pass from Gwagwa across Jabi, Gwarimpa, Utako, Wuse Hospital and Garki before ending at the Area 1 Park, located behind the former FCT NYSC Secretariat.
Above all, unlike the present rolling stocks which run on diesel, the Phase 2 rolling stock would run on Electric Motor Units (EMUs). This would make it the most modern in West Africa. He pointed out that the project would bring about a major relief to the transportation needs and economic potentials of the City.
The contract for the light rail project is undertaken by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) at a cost put at $823 million (about N299 billion).
The total length of the double track rail project segmented into three Lots is 45.245 kilometres.
The strategic Lot 3 will connect the new International terminus at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport to the Central Railway Terminal in Abuja Central business district, making it comfortable for travellers to arrive the airport by train.