Nigeria commissions China-assisted Abuja light rail
A Chinese-developed light rail line in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, designed to reduce traffic in the city of 1.2 million people, is now active.
The rapid-transit system, the first of its kind in West Africa, has been built by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) for 820 million U.S. dollars.
Financing for the light rail line project is being backed by the Export-Import Bank of China.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, attending the ceremony to open the line, says the project represents a significant milestone for his country.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari delivers a keynote address at the Abuja light rail transportation system's commissioning ceremony on July 12th, 2018. [Photo: people.com.cn]
"I am thankful to the government and people of China for their investment in the Nigerian economy. I commend the CCECC Limited - the contracting firm, for the quality of work and timely delivery of this project," says Buhari.
The three coaches are currently able to take 300 passengers in one trip, while Nigerian officials estimate the line will carry around a thousand people a day to start out with.
To help promote the service, locals are being given one month's free transit on the line.
"The cabins were spacious, and air-conditioning was working. So there was no stress traveling, it was a very enjoyable ride," says an Abuja resident named Brenda.
"It's highly commendable. It has made the journey between the airport and town seamless, safe and very comfortable," says another Abuja resident named Sunny.
Running 45 kilometers in total, the first phase of the project connects the city center, at the Abuja Metro Station, to Abuja's Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, at the Abuja Airport Terminal, covering 12 stations.
Abuja Metro Station at Nigeria's capital, Abuja's city center. [Photo: people.com.cn]
Trains have been designed to move at a maximum speed of 100 kilometers per hour.
The system is being operated by a Chinese team trained by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
CCECC's general manager Zhao Dianlong says the project has been developed through the Belt and Road Initiative.
"We are very happy to see that there are many skilled technicians and managers in rail transit technology involved. These people will create a talent base for the development of the rail transit sector in Nigeria in the future. This project also helps promote construction through Belt and Road initiative, which we think will help bring new opportunities to Nigeria," says Zhao.
A train stops at the Abuja Airport Terminal, at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, Nigeria's capital. [Photo: people.com.cn]
The Nigerian government has purchased 12 trains to run on the line with four cars each.
Once completely finished, the Abuja light rail line is expected to transport 140,000 passengers per day in Nigeria's capital.