From Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Nigeria and China will parley later this month on the manufacture and delivery of the 48 coaches ordered by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) toward the effective operation of the Abuja Light Train Mass transit system.
FCT Minister Muhammed Musa Bello, who is supervising the project, will later this month travel to the coaches’ production line in China.
The 45 kilometres long Lot 1 A and Lot 3 of the Abuja Light Rail project was commissioned last month by President Muhammadu Buhari at the cost of $850 million.
China Ex-im Bank is expected to supply and maintain the 48 coaches for three years at $194 million in tune with the infrastructure soft loan agreement it concluded with the FCTA.
However, since it was commissioned, the project is yet to be fully operational because it is still being test run with only three pilot coaches used for passenger service to the new terminus at the international Airport in Abuja.
The Transport Secretary, FCTA Kayode Opeifa, said that FCT Minister will tour the railway coaches’ production centres this month.
Opeifa gave this hint Thursday when he and Chief project Engineer, Tony Agbakoba, guided the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on a tour of the completed Idu, Metro and Airport Stations of the Abuja light rail system.
He said that it will take between 12- 15 months to manufacture the 48 coaches, stressing that the coaches will not be delivered at the same time.
“We crave the understanding of the public because it is not possible to produce the coaches at the same time. In the next four to 15 months, we will hopefully start to deliver some of the coaches. Even the US and some European countries follow the same procedure by placing orders for coaches. Later this month, the FCT Minister will lead a delegation on a final inspection visit to the production line in China to see some of the coaches we have ordered,” he said.
He said the project is the first integrated mode of Transportation in Africa that connects the railways and the airport in order to ensure seamless movement of passengers.
Opeifa attributed the completion of the Lot 1 A and Lot 3 to the desire of President Buhari when he visited President Xi Jinping two years ago.
While addressing reporters on the tour, Mohammed said that it took the federal government only 18 months to complete the project it met at only 55 per cent completion stage.
The minister inspected the concourse, VIP Lounge, meeting rooms, platforms, ticketing sections, sick bay, rolling stock depot and Operating Signal Control Room and arrival halls at Idu, Airport and metro stations.
He said the administration had fixed many of the infrastructure it found in dilapidated state in all geo-political zones when it assumed power in 2015.
Mohammed, said the Buhari Administration is building a legacy of enduring infrastructure for posterity.
“This administration is not looking for quick fixes because quick fixes don’t work. We are laying a foundation for an enduring infrastructural development. We are painstaking and very transparentand we remain focused and committed,” he said.