Abuja Rail Project, FOCAC as achievements in Sino-Nigeria ties
On Thursday July 12, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, will formally flag-off the Abuja Light Rail Mass Transit Project, constructed by China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC). This exercise will open the rail for commercial services, which according to experts is fated to change the face of transportation in the Nigerian capital and could create about 2,000 jobs.
According to the Managing Director of CCECC, Jack Li, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) had awarded the contract for design, construction, procurement installation and testing of the Abuja Rail Mass Transit Project(Lots 1 and 3) to the CCECC in May 2017. However, inconsistent funding was a major challenge to the effective execution of the project. FCTA then decided to implement the project in phases and phase 1 of the project includes Lots 1A and 3 with a total length of 45.2km, he said.
Giving background information to reporters, Li said the Accelerated Light Rail project is significant and beneficial in the sense that it is the first light rail in West Africa. He added that it was funded by China EXIM Bank with a concession loan of $500 million offered to the Nigerian government on preferential buyer credit agreement. He said further that the growing bilateral ties between China and Nigeria will be strengthened with the support of his country in both railway development and technology.
The project was smoothly and successfully completed in November 2012 and the taking over certificate was obtained in December 2017.
The Three-Dimensional Traffic Network rail system runs from the West to the Airport Station at the Abuja International Airport and east to Abuja Metro Station at the Abuja Transportation Centre downtown.
“With eight stations Lot 3 mainly serves the passengers from the Airport to city centre, and those transferred from Lot 1A to the Airport or to the city Centre. IDU Station is designed as an interchange station where passengers can transfer between Lot 3 and Lot 1A or between Abuja Light Railway and National Railway (Abuja-Kaduna railway).
“With four stations, this line mainly serves passengers between IDU Industrial Zone and Kubwa satellite town. Abuja Rail Mass Transit Project ensures complete connection and integration with National Railway and the newly –built Abuja International Airport Terminal, and builds up the three-dimensional traffic network of the capital city to provide seamless public transport services for passengers from the Federal Capital City,” he said.
He noted that the Abuja Rail Master Plan also makes provision for a comprehensive railway system to serve primarily as a “mass mover of people” between the satellite town and the different phases of the Federal Capital City (FCC). He added that its realization will “drastically bring convenience to dwellers, making their travels more dependable, more punctual, safer, and cheaper, and their living environment will be cleaner, and their lives will be easier and better.”
He said further that the local railway construction and operating personnel are trained to make Nigeria gradually achieve technological know-how in the field of rail transportation.
He however, noted that the counterpart funding of N9 billion expected from the Nigerian government was yet to be perfected, adding that 12 Diesel Multipurpose Units each with four coaches are expected to boost the system.
Since Nigeria and China formally established bilateral relations in February 1971, the two nations have collaborated in the sphere of trade, investment and economic development. As at last year, the trade volume between both countries had hit $12.3 billion.
China also collaborates with Nigeria in the area of power, information technology and digital economy. Last year, the Chinese Exim Bank reached an agreement with the Nigerian government to build the $5.8 billion Mambilla Hydro-power project, for 3050 megawatts of electricity, an agreement that will see China take 85% of the funding for the project on Joint Venture basis.
China and Nigeria are also at the forefront of cooperation under the Forum for China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which summit comes up in September in Beijing China to further entrench the “win-win” cooperation.
Chinese ambassador to Nigeria, Zhou Pingjian during a seminar on China-Africa Cooperation in Information Technology and Digital Economy on June 28 in Abuja, said the FOCAC summit will unveil new measures for China- Africa (Nigeria inclusive) all-round cooperation in the next stage and open up new prospects for the common development.
“Both sides will endeavour to combine the theme of the summit with the construction of the “Belt and Roads” between China and Africa, the 2063 agenda of the African Union as well as the development strategies of various African countries like Nigeria’s Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) to make new planning for win-win cooperation.
“China will continue to share its development opportunities with African countries and welcome them on board the train of China’s development. It is believed that FOCAC Beijing summit, a meeting of equals for win-win cooperation, will surely become another historic event to strengthen China-Africa solidarity and cooperation,” the envoy said.
China invested $60 billion during the last FOCAC summit in South Africa in 2015 and the facts have emerged that the Chinese government of Xi Jinping is poised to invest $100 billion to boost investment and the Nigerian government is already organizing an inter-ministerial effort to map out strategies on how to leverage the opportunity.
The massive Chinese investments in Nigeria are an expression of the diverse opportunities in the country, the open-door policy of the Nigerian government and the vibrant and abundant labour force in the country. Experts believe that the two nations in the long run will continue to benefit from their growing bilateral ties.
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