Abuja-Kaduna rail track: FG commences test-running March

…To fence railway lines with N345m

From ROMANUS UGWU, Abuja

THE Federal Government has ordered Chinese construction giant (CCECC) to ensure arrangments are in place for the commencement of the Abuja-Kaduna standard gauge rail transport next month. It also emerged that fencing the railway lines will gulp $100 million (about N345 million).

Speaking with newmen after an inspection of the project, Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed that the construction of the fence to check encroachment of grazing animals was responsible for jerking up of the initial contract sum to over $1 billion.

Asked whether the Federal Government has completed payment for the project, he replied: “When we came in, the company stopped working because they were not paid. We have gradually, continued to pay them so that they can return and complete the job. The contract sum for the project is over $1 billion dollars.

“The initial contract was increased because of our cultural background that affects construction in Nigeria. We have to build a fence from Abuja to Kaduna, costing over $100 million to stop animals from grazing,” he disclosed.

Commenting specifically on the purpose of the inspection, the former governor of Rivers State, said: “The essence of taking this tour of the rail project is to enable us assess our readiness for commercial activity and I think we are. I will be coming from Kaduna through the rail to Abuja.

“We think that, by March, we should start a test-run of the rail services. For now, we think it should be free for those who run between March and April. By May, we expect that Mr. President will kindly accept to flag-off full commercial activities of this rail project. What it means is that those who want to travel to Kaduna by rail can actually use the services to Kaduna.

“The way the rail is designed is that the Abuja light rail will pick passengers travelling to Kaduna and drop them at Idu station to join the rail heading to Kaduna but, our plans will be to temporarily connect directly with the Abuja rail since they are not ready for operation yet.

“On the level of completion, I can tell you that the project is 100 per cent completed and that is why I said that we are ready to roll. I can equally assure you that the trains to commence commercial activities will arrive the country next month.”

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