By Everest Samuel Ikechukwu
The much anticipated Abuja Light Rail project looks set to take off in the first quarter of this year, as government takes delivery of its test coaches.
Making this disclosure, the Transport Secretary in the FCT, Mr Kayode Opeifa reiterated the Administration’s commitment to the commencement of the rail services in the nation’s capital.
Opeifa, who spoke to journalists, commended the FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello for the passion and energy he invested in driving the project to the tremendous success story being witnessing.
He noted that, the ultra-modern coaches, with a total capacity of 390 passengers, arrived at the same time with the Kaduna rolling stocks at the end of last year.
The Secretary also reviewed that, the administration could not commence trial runs because of the preliminary logistics needed before the exercise.
According to him, all hands are on deck for the operations to commence early this year, and there would be two phases in all, adding that these involve test-runs by the technical team which would come before the test-run by passengers.
Opeifa further emphasised that, all these were required before the arrival of the regular passenger coaches needed for the formal commencement of full operations.
He explained also that, “These are all technical requirements in rail transportation projects and are in compliance with international due diligence and professional standards.”
Opeifa disclosed that the rail services, on full operation, would convey between 120,000 and 200000 passengers daily in the 20 coaches planned in the loop.
He then stressed that the coaches would not be introduced at once but progressively ramped up to reach the maximum number.
The Secretary further disclosed that, the 12 stations traversing the rail-line corridor are complete including the Abuja Metro Station behind the Abuja World Trade Centre also known as the Central Railway Station.
He noted that, the facilities, especially the Metro Station are all ultra-modern edifices with provisions for modern shopping precincts and eateries.
“Also completed are the rolling stock depot and maintenance base at Idu, fitted with modern railway coaches repair facilities” , he added.
Opeifa also reiterated that work on Phase 2 of the Abuja Light Rail Project which begins at Gwagwa and ends in Area 1 will be ramped up this year, this, he said is because the first phase of the project is as good as “a done deal.
He revealed that the rail lines would pass Gwagwa across Jabi, Gwarimpa, Utako, Wuse Hospital and Garki before ending at the Area 1 Park, located behind the former FCT NYSC Secretariat.
The Secretary also hinted that, unlike the present rolling stocks which run on diesel, the Phase 2 rolling stock would run on Electric Motor Units (EMUs) which he said would make it the most modern in West Africa.
He pointed out that the project would bring relief to the transportation needs and economic potentials of the city.