Okonjo-Iweala lauds FG’s rail projects
The Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Thursday commended the progress made so far in the construction of the Federal Capital Territory’s rail projects.
Okonjo-Iweala made the commendation when she inspected the project sites of Abuja terminal expansion at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja.
The minister expressed satisfaction with the level of work on the light rail in Idu and the Abuja-Kaduna rail projects.
According to her, the Federal Government is looking forward to a constructed terminal that is similar to those found outside the country which Nigerians will be proud of.
“My impression on the progress is very good, the work is going on well and the terminal is 30 per cent completed.
“I am quite excited as you can see because what I saw up there is quite impressive. The quality seems solid and the design looks good.
“The Federal Government took a loan of 500 million dollars from the NEXIM Bank of the Chinese Government to construct modern terminals in the country.
“We have four terminals that are going to be financed from this money, they include, Abuja, Lagos, Kano and Port-Harcourt,”she said.
On the light rail, the Minister said what she had in her head was different from what she had seen; adding that what she had seen would endure longer.
“They have explained to me how they will be working on phases for the project and God willing by May next year we will be riding on it.
“What we had borrowed was 500 million dollars but they had started work before then and we had already paid 162 million before the loan was approved.
“This is not just about borrowing money, it is about a relationship between China and Nigeria, and for this segment we have already borrowed what is needed to complete this section,” she said.
The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Gu Xiaojie said the Chinese Government was committed to the partnership and that CCECC was also committed to completing the project.
“Best quality is ensured for the project and CCECC is also undertaking the project and are undergoing training programme and employing local force for the project.
“It is a very good project and the Nigerian Government is making very good use of the Chinese loans.
“I think from what I have seen, it is going on very well, they are constructing according to the standard and I think we will finish this on time,” Xiaojie said.
The Director, Rail and Mass Transit, Federal Ministry of Transport, Gafai Bature, said the national rail was at 84 per cent completion and would be ready for inauguration by December.
“The Idu station is the first station and one can come here and take a train to Kaduna within a maximum of one hour.
“The train speed is about 150 kilometer per hour. We are hoping that by December, new locomotives will arrive to carry passengers within the FCT.
“The light rail is like a city train within the FCT and its environs but the national rail is a heavy gauge train that carries passengers and goods.
“The national rail is segmented into six. After this, we will embark on Lagos to Ibadan, Lagos to Ilorin, Ilorin to Minna, Minna to Abuja and Minna to Kano.”
He noted that the first stage of the project covered 186 km from Idu to Kaduna, adding that the total sum of the project was 849 million dollars.