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11 Years After, Abuja Light Rail Takes Off



  • 11 Years After, Abuja Light Rail Takes Off

Last Thursday’s inauguration of the Abuja Light rail was a landmark. It was the first intra-city standard gauge shuttle service by any government, a promise fulfilled by the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

It is no fluke that the rail system was kicked off in Abuja, which, according to the National Population Commission (NPC), is the fourth most populous city in Nigeria, after Lagos, Kano and Ibadan, growing at the rate of 7.1 percent, that could overtake them by the turn of the decade.

With this growth index, it is not out of place to have competing modes of transport like the urban mass transit, taxis, tricycles, popularly called Keke NAPEP,l and motorcycles. The modern railway system would further add to the mix, making livability index of the city more intriguing.

By design Abuja, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), including most private businesses, are concentrated in the Central Business Area and the Central Business District.

Workers go from satellite towns, such as Kubwa, Gwagwa, Kuje, Mpape, Kasrshi, Gwagwalada, Suleja, Kwali, Mararaba, and Karu to the city centre daily. The result is a congested city centre that has distorted the city’s original plan.

To solve the problem and reduce travel time of about 40 minutes from any of the satellite towns to the city, the light rail system was conceived as apart of the city’s masterplan in 1977. It was intended to form the spine of public transport system in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The Abuja rail mass transit system was designed primarily to move people within and between the satellite towns.

The commuter rail is, therefore, crucial for sustainable integration of the satellite towns into the metropolitan transport.

To facilitate the development of the rail mass transit, it was phased based on demand and financial resources. The system was designed to integrate with the National Rail Network. Divided into six lots, and has a length of 290 kilometres.

They are Lot 1A (23km) from Idu to Kubwa, and 1B (26.78km) from Ring Road I through to Gwagwa. Lot 2: from Gwagwa via interchange centre to Nyanya/Karu (51km); Lot 3: From Transportation Centre via Idu Industrial Zone to Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport (27.245km); Lot 4:From Kuje Satellite town to Karshi Satellite town with the remaining legs of the Transit way line 2; (90km) Lot 5:From Kubwa via Bwari to Suleja (31km) and Lot 6: From Airport via Kuje and Gwagwalada to Dobi (43km).

The project was awarded to CCECC Nigeria Limited on May 23, 2007, but work started two years later. The revised contract sum was $823,540,545.87 for the double track rail line. Though the original date of completion was May 28, 2011, the contract was revised again on the August 24, 2014 with the completion date W slated for last December 31.

The Lots 1A and 3 comprises 1,435km gauge, 12 stations, 50 culverts 13 railway bridges, 25 flyover bridges, rolling stock depot comprises of 21 buildings, namely: Operation Control Centre, Training Centre, Maintenance Crew Staff quarters, Comprehensive Maintenance building, oil pump room, waste water treatment room, and deep well pump room.

The segments, which were inaugurated were Lots 1A and 3, covered only 45.245km. This shows that only 16 percent of the rail network has been covered.

The administration, which met the project at 63 percent completion, lauded itself for completing it within the revised time frame, though with about six month’s extension.

FCT Transportation Secretary, Kayode Opeifa said: “There should be no politics with this. This project took eight years to get to 63 per cent; it was almost becoming an elephant project if not for the seriousness and commitment of the government to finish it. When oil was selling at N110, they never finished it. It is not about politics. While we commended the past government for initiating and driving it, the truth is that the past administration had all the opportunities in the world to complete this project, but it was not properly managed. We don’t have time for politics and what is important is that we met it at 63 per cent after eight years and we completed it within three years.”

Inaugurating the project, a very pleased President Buhari described its completion as a dream come true. He praised the Minister of FCT for a job well done.

He said: “This accomplishment clearly demonstrates our commitment to addressing critical infrastructural projects and keeping with the ideals of the Change Agenda to ensure prudence in the management of public resources, value for money considering the huge investments in this project. Transportation is the live wire of any city. I am very optimistic that a modern rail service would bring about a boost to the FCT economy and greatly enhance social life. I am aware that what we have on ground today are coaches meant to provide skeletal services as we await the main set of the rolling stock for full operations.

“I have been briefed on the outcome of the Ministers of FCT and Finance’s recent visit to China, during which the MoUs and agree-ments for the procurements of the main rolling stock were signed. May I, therefore, assure Nigerians of Federal Government’s continued support for all the negotiations towards the realisation of the Abuja Light Rail system. What we have in the Federal Capital Territory 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.

“I commend the efforts of the Minister of FCT as well as the support and patience of the residents, while we are working to improve the city’s transportation service. 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.

“Let me place on record the Nigerian government’s appreciation to the Government of China and the EXIM Bank of China for their support on this and many other projects being executed in the country. This gesture further cements the existing cordial relations and developmental partnership between Nigeria and the People’s Republic of China. I would also like to thank our Nigerian consultants, Messrs Transurb Technirail Consult Limited for their services.”

The President urged the management of the rail services to, “ensure efficient operations, good customer service and maintenance culture of the rail.”

Opeifa also hinted that the rail system would provide 100,000 direct or indirect jobs for Abuja residents. He said in line with international best practices, the FCTA administration was determined to ensure that the rail system was affordable to residents. He maintained that the administration would make the 12 rail stations attractive to users to earn more money, especially for those living around the stations. As part of the attraction, passengers, he said, would enjoy two weeks of free ride on the train.

On the next phase of the project, the FCT Minister Muhammad Bello said the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved $1.3 billion for the construction of a standard gauge, which would cover 32.54 km from Nnamdi Azikiwe Expressway(Garki Area l) – Gwagwa – Gbazango Station to Kubwa.

“The Federal Executive Council approved the project in 2017 for construction by CCECC at a cost of US$1.3 billion. We hope that the Minister of Finance would consider putting this key project in the next borrowing plans, we hope that the Minister of Budget and National Planning would agree to it, and that the National Assembly would approved it and that China Exim Bank would fund it as a mark of goodwill for the cordial relationship between our two countries,” Bello asserted.

Though he could not ascertain when the entire rail projects would be completed, Bello expresses the hope that his successors in office would give priority to rail system as a critical means of mass transportation.

He said the FCT Administration has concluded with Exim Bank of China for the supply of coaches, including their maintenance for three years at a cost of $194 million. The coach presently used has the capacity to carry 390 passengers.

He said the Exim Bank of China would fund the project with $157 million or 85 per cent, while FCTA would bring in a counterpart fund of $37million (15 per cent).

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.


Transcorp Hotels Expand into Marketplace, Launches Aura to Connect People, Hoteliers, Others



Transcorp hotel

Transcorp Hotels Plc, on Thursday, announced it has launched a new digital platform, Aura, through which people can book accommodation, restaurants and experiences.

Aura, Transcorp’s first in the alternative accommodation segment, is part of the company’s asset-light model, leveraging technology to deliver true hospitality, exciting experiences, and drive shareholder value.

It’s a new dawn in the hospitality industry! I am thrilled to introduce you to Aura by Transcorp, the digital platform we are using to connect people to quality accommodation, great food, and awesome experiences,” Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Transcorp Hotels Plc. Dupe Olusola said.

For more than 30 years, Transcorp Hotels Plc has been at the forefront of creating a superior guest experience at our locations. Today, our commitment to innovation has offered us an opportunity to extend this beyond the hotel premises,” Olusola added.

The launch of Aura by Transcorp is one of the most significant developments in the company’s history as it seeks to transform the travel and tourism industry in Africa by focusing on three important components of travel, whether for leisure or business — where you stay, what you eat and how you spend your time. With its people-driven hospitality model, Aura is set to revolutionise travel and help remind Africans of our deep history of hospitality.

Speaking on the launch of Aura, Obong Idiong, Chief Executive Officer at Africa Prudential Plc, Aura’s technology partners, expressed his excitement. “Finding the right accommodation when you travel can be incredibly complex. Options available for the right prices are often limited, and travellers sometimes end up with accommodation that taints the travel experience. Transcorp Hotels Plc has been able to fix that with Aura and we are proud to be associated with them.”

To ensure topnotch user experience, we built a solution to drive digital transformation through the adoption of shared living spaces for the Aura business. With an advanced search algorithm powered by artificial intelligence, Aura determines the relevance of locations taking into consideration, the customers’ preferences and requirements to meet them at the point of their needs,” Idiong added.

Priscilla Adeboye, a travel enthusiast and early adopter of Aura, said the global pandemic has pushed international travel down her list. “But I still want to be able to take some time off work or spend a weekend away from home with the family. I have found incredible homes on Aura that meet my need for space and privacy.


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Siemens Energy Nigeria Appoints Seun Suleiman as Managing Director




Seun Suleiman is the New Managing Director of Siemens Energy Nigeria

Mr. Seun Suleiman is the new managing director of Siemens Energy Nigeria, the company announced on Wednesday.

According to the statement released by the energy company, Suleiman will be responsible for the entire management of operations and decisions on business policies and corporate strategy.

Commenting on his appointment, Suleiman said, “It is an absolute honor to lead the business for Siemens Energy Nigeria and I look forward to delivering on the brand’s promise of excellence.

Suleiman joined Siemens Energy in 2014, bringing over 15 years’ experience and deep expertise in the private sector across Europe and West Africa.

The statement said, “He is an accomplished business strategist and success-driven leader with strong business acumen. Suleiman has also been a core member of the executive management team at Siemens Energy serving in roles as Sales Director West Africa – Service Distributed Generation Oil & Gas and Vice President Service & Digital.

“Prior to this, he also held various functional and managerial positions with ABB Ltd UK, ABBNG Nigeria, Schneider Electric Nigeria and Dresser-Rand Nigeria Ltd.

It added that Suleiman was experienced in establishing operational excellence with specific competence in the power, oil and gas sectors.

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FG Reopens Osubi Airport Warri for Daylight Operations




FG Reopens Osubi Airport Warri for Daylight Operations

The Federal Government on Monday said the Osubi Airport in Warri has been reopened for daylight operations.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Siriki, disclosed this in a tweet.

The airport was closed in February 2020 over mismanagement and debt allegation involving aviation service providers and airport management.

However, Oberuakpefe Afe, a lawmaker representing Okpe/Sapeie/vaie federal constituency, recently moved a motion for the Federal Government through the ministry of aviation and relevant authorities to reopen the airport for flight operations.

On Monday, Hadi Siriki said “I have just approved the reopening of Osubi Airport Warri, for daylight operations in VFR conditions, subject to all procedures, practices and protocols, including COVID-19, strictly being observed. There will not be need for local approvals henceforth.

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