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11 Years After, Abuja Light Rail Takes Off

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  • 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).

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Dangote Sugar Refinery Raises ₦42.79 Billion in Successful Commercial Paper Issuance

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Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc

Dangote Sugar Refinery PLC has successfully raised ₦42.79 billion through the issuance of Series 4 and 5 Commercial Paper notes.

The issuance, announced on Friday, underscores the company’s robust financial strategy and strong market confidence in its operations.

The Series 4 notes, amounting to ₦12.93 billion, were issued for a tenure of 181 days with a yield of 23.00%.

The Series 5 notes, on the other hand, totaled ₦29.86 billion, were issued for a tenure of 265 days, and offered a yield of 25.00%. These notes were issued under the company’s ₦150 billion Commercial Paper Issuance Programme.

The issuance saw substantial participation from a diverse group of investors, including Pension and Non-Pension Asset Managers, as well as other institutional and individual investors.

This broad interest highlights the trust and confidence the market has in Dangote Sugar Refinery’s financial health and operational strategy.

Mrs. Temitope Hassan, Company Secretary and Legal Adviser of Dangote Sugar Refinery PLC, expressed her satisfaction with the successful issuance.

“This achievement is a testament to the strong investor confidence in Dangote Sugar Refinery’s business model and financial stability. The funds raised will be instrumental in supporting our short-term working capital and funding requirements, enabling us to continue our growth trajectory and maintain operational excellence.”

The successful issuance of the commercial paper notes aligns with Dangote Sugar Refinery’s strategic objectives of maintaining a flexible and diversified funding base.

By tapping into the commercial paper market, the company ensures that it has the necessary liquidity to meet its operational needs while also positioning itself to take advantage of growth opportunities in the competitive sugar industry.

Dangote Sugar Refinery PLC, a subsidiary of the Dangote Group, remains one of Nigeria’s leading sugar producers.

The company continues to play a pivotal role in the country’s sugar industry, contributing significantly to the economy and ensuring the availability of high-quality sugar products for consumers.

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Dangote Group Expands Refinery Storage Capacity to 5.3 Billion Litres

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Dangote Refinery

The Dangote Group has announced a significant expansion of its refinery storage capacity.

The expansion, disclosed by Alhaji Aliko Dangote, President of the Dangote Group, during his address at the Afreximbank Annual Meetings and AfriCaribbean Trade & Investment Forum in Nassau, The Bahamas.

Currently boasting a storage capacity of 4.78 billion litres, the Dangote Petrochemical Refinery is set to increase this figure by an additional 600 million litres, bringing the total capacity to an impressive 5.3 billion litres.

This expansion underscores Dangote’s commitment to transforming Nigeria into a hub for refined petroleum products and solidifies the refinery’s role as a strategic reserve for the nation.

Addressing stakeholders at the forum, Dangote highlighted the refinery’s pivotal role in addressing longstanding challenges in Nigeria’s energy sector, particularly the absence of strategic reserves for petrol.

“The country doesn’t have strategic reserves in terms of petrol, which is very dangerous. But in our plant now, when you came, we had only 4.78 billion litres of various tankage capacity. But right now, we’re adding another 600 million,” Dangote affirmed.

The expansion comes amidst various operational challenges faced by the refinery, including attempts by international oil companies to hinder its operations.

Dangote asserted that these challenges, aimed at impeding the success of the refinery, were indicative of broader resistance to change within the oil industry.

“We borrowed the money based on our balance sheet. I think we borrowed just over $5.5bn. But we paid also a lot of interest as we went along, because the project was delayed because of a lack of land, also the sand-filling took a long time,” Dangote revealed, emphasizing the resilience required to overcome these obstacles.

Moreover, Dangote expressed optimism regarding the refinery’s capacity to influence regional fuel prices, citing the success story of diesel price reduction following the refinery’s market entry.

He indicated that while petrol pricing remains a complex issue governed by governmental policies, the refinery’s operations would strive to offer competitive pricing and supply stability.

The expansion of the Dangote Petrochemical Refinery not only marks a significant milestone in Nigeria’s industrial landscape but also positions the conglomerate as a key player in reshaping Africa’s energy dynamics.

As construction progresses towards completion, the refinery aims to further consolidate its role in meeting regional energy demands and fostering economic growth across West Africa.

With plans to commence sales of refined products in the coming months, Dangote’s refinery is poised to play a transformative role in Nigeria’s quest for energy independence and regional economic integration.

As stakeholders await the refinery’s operational debut, expectations are high for its potential to drive down fuel prices and enhance energy security across the region.

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Musk Secures Shareholder Support for Compensation and Texas Relocation

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Elon Musk

Tesla Inc. shareholders have voted in favor of Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk’s compensation package and the company’s state of incorporation change to Texas.

The results, announced at Tesla’s annual meeting in Austin on Thursday, reflect shareholder approval despite challenges such as declining sales and a significant drop in stock price.

Musk had hinted at the likely outcome the night before the meeting in a post on X, stating that both resolutions were “passing by wide margins.”

The electric car manufacturer did not disclose the detailed breakdown of the votes.

The approval of Musk’s pay package, although advisory, demonstrates continued investor support for his leadership.

The package had previously been nullified by a Delaware judge in January, but Tesla plans to appeal. Should the appeal fail, relocating Tesla’s legal home to Texas may provide the board an opportunity to reintroduce the compensation plan under potentially more favorable legal conditions.

Originally approved in 2018 with 73% of the vote, Musk’s compensation plan makes him eligible for up to $55.8 billion in stock options if Tesla achieves specific milestones.

Currently, the value of these options is approximately $48.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Musk’s leadership has been a topic of significant debate, particularly in light of his oversight of six companies and his tendency toward abrupt strategic changes.

Earlier this year, Musk orchestrated Tesla’s largest layoffs to date, only to rehire some of the affected workers weeks later.

In addition to the compensation package, shareholders voted to reelect James Murdoch and Kimbal Musk to Tesla’s board.

Murdoch, son of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, has served on the board since 2017, while Kimbal Musk, Elon’s younger brother, has been a member since 2004.

Tesla’s stock saw a modest increase of 0.3% in extended trading following the announcement, though the stock had fallen about 27% over the year compared to a 14% gain in the S&P 500 Index.

During the annual meeting, held at Tesla’s Austin headquarters, shareholders showed enthusiastic support as Musk took the stage in a black Cybertruck T-shirt.

He shared updates on the company’s progress, including the introduction of three new models, the expansion of the Supercharger network, and record production levels for Cybertrucks.

“A lot of people said Cybertruck was fake, never going to come out. Now we’re shipping a lot of Cybertrucks,” Musk stated.

In addressing his substantial pay package, Musk clarified that it is structured as options requiring him to hold Tesla stock for five years. “I can’t cut and run, nor would I want to,” he said.

The push for shareholder support involved a dedicated “Vote Tesla” website and advertising on X, with Tesla investors and executives vocalizing their backing for Musk.

Despite some opposition from significant investors like Norway’s sovereign wealth fund and the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the measures passed.

The relocation to Texas has been formalized, with the certificate of conversion available on the Texas Secretary of State website.

However, any future compensation plan will need to be restructured to comply with Texas legal standards, should the Delaware appeal fail.

The recent shareholder vote may enhance Tesla’s position in the forthcoming appeal. Delaware Chancery Court Judge Kathaleen St. Jude McCormick’s January decision to void the compensation package cited conflicts of interest and inadequate disclosure.

The appeal’s outcome, expected later this year, will determine the next steps for Musk’s compensation plan.

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