- FEC approves $1.3bn for project phase two .PDP flays Buhari, APC for claiming rail project
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari thursday, inaugurated the Lot 1A and Lot 3 of the Abuja Rail Mass Transit, with a promise of the federal governmentâ€™s support for the negotiations towards the completion of the second phase of the rail system.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has also approved for construction by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), the phase two of the rail project to cover a distance of 32.54km from Nnamdi Azikwe Expressway at Garki Area l, via the transportation Centre, to Gwagwa and from Bazango Station to Kubwa at the cost of $1.3 billion to be funded by China Exim Bank.
This is coming as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has berated President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) for attempting to claim credit for the Abuja Light Rail Project, which was conceptualised and initiated by the PDP-led administration.
The 1435-milimetre standard gauge project, touted the first of its kind in West Africa, covers the total length of 45.3 kilometres.
The president inaugurated the project constructed at the revised fee of $824 metres at the Abuja Metro Station.
Accompanied by some members of his cabinet and the Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Zhou Pingjian, the president later embarked on a guided tour of the Idu Control and Operation Centre and the International Airport Train Terminal.
Buhari described transportation as the live wire of any city, stressing that he was optimistic that a modern rail service would boost the FCT economy and greatly enhance its social life.
He urged the FCT administration, especially, the management of the rail services, to ensure efficient operations, good customer service and maintenance culture in the operations punctuality of the rail.
â€œToday, what we have in the FCT is another evidence that we are a government that delivers on its promises. I have observed keenly other milestones that this administration has achieved, especially in the areas of education, public utilities and infrastructure development,â€ Buhari said.
FCT Minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, said the Abuja Rail Mass Transit System was made up of six Lots and would be linked with the National Rail Network when eventually completed.
He announced that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved for construction by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) the construction of phase II of the rail project to cover a distance of 32.54km from Nnamdi Azikwe Expressway at Garki Area l, via the transportation Centre, to Gwagwa and from Bazango Station to Kubwa at the cost of $1.3 billion to be funded by China Exim Bank.
Bello also disclosed that the FCTA had 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 $194,008,602.43.
The bank would fund the project to the tune of $157,001,049.89 (85 per cent), while the FCTA would bring in a counterpart fund of US$37,007,552.54 (15 per cent).
The Abuja rail is divided into six Lots and with total length of 290 kilometres.
The commissioned Lots 1A and 3 comprises of 12 stations, including 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.
It has 15 flyover bridges, 13 railway bridges, 50 culverts and nine pedestrian overpass.
The light rail is projected to convey 5,000 passengers per day while the protect consultants, Messrs Transurb Technical Ltd has granted the project Safety Certificate for commercial operations.
Meanwhile, the PDP has slammed President Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) for attempting to claim credit for the Abuja Light Rail Project, which was conceptualised and initiated by the PDP-led administration.
The party said President Buhariâ€™s show-boating and rush to inaugurate the rail project, without giving credit to the PDP, even when his administration contributed nothing to the project, underscored his desperation to claim achievements made by others, in a frantic bid to cover â€˜â€™incompetence and the failureâ€™â€™ of his administration.
In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the main opposition party said it was crystal clear that President Buhari could not comprehend the design, scope and utility projection of the rail project, resulting in â€œhis hollow speech at the photo-op inauguration ceremonyâ€.
The party added that, â€œit is not unfortunate that, after three years in office, President Buhari cannot boast of any development project conceptualised and executed by his administration in any part of the country, resulting in his numerous face-saving stunts, including inaugurating projects executed by others, amongst them, a bus stop in Lagos State and a borehole in Jigawa State.
â€œThe PDP usually watch with amusement whenever President Buhari and the APC seek to claim credit for our achievements in various sectors. However, while we understand their predicament of having nothing in their scorecard ahead of the 2019 general elections, we state that poaching the achievements of others cannot help them in anyway,â€ he explained.
PDP said it was even more pathetic that not only that the Buhari-led administration lacked the capacity to articulate and run any precise economic policy or project, it was also so inept that it could not leverage on those handed over to it by the PDP, resulting in the helpless situation the country had found itself