Tinubu secures six-month free train for Abuja residents


Abuja residents are to enjoy a free ride on the Abuja Rail Mass Transit (ARMT), which was inaugurated yesterday by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu until the end of the year.

The President said he had pleaded with the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Nyesom Wike, to extend the promised two-month free ride period until December.

“Our dear landlord and his team had initially proposed two months of free rides. However, I appealed to you to extend this until the end of the year, providing the people with hope and reason to celebrate,” Tinubu announced during the inauguration.

After taking a symbolic ride on the Abuja Metroline, the president said the timely delivery of the project demonstrated his administration’s commitment to revolutionize Nigeria’s transportation sector.

He said: “The re-commencement of this project is a dream come-through for this administration. Today, what we have in the FCT is another piece of evidence that we are a government that delivers on promises. I observe keenly other milestones that this administration has achieved, especially in the areas of social services and other public utilities.

“Abuja light rail metro stands as a symbol of progress, connectivity, and inclusivity, and it signifies our determination to modernise our transportation infrastructure.”

Applauding the Wike-led FCTA, the president affirmed that the minister has demonstrated unusual capacity to include the people in the Renewed Hope Agenda (RHA).

He said that transportation gives hope and access to various individuals and organizations. He added that the construction of access roads to the various stations by the Minister of the FCT is evidence of true service to the Nigerian people.

Tinubu said the essence of the rehabilitated metroline rail system is to reduce traffic congestion in the FCT and enhance accessibility for residents, visitors within and outside the city.

Wike, who described the launch as a promise fulfilled, added that the coming into operation of the ARMT system confirmed the reality of the President’s (RHA).

He said: “What is the renewed hope agenda? It is giving back hope to the people, so, it is a reality. What we have seen today is a reality. People will now be happy that they can come to the city and go back using the train.

“So, when we talk about renewed hope, it appears as if it is mere talk; it is a reality. I want to use Abuja to showcase that the renewed hope is real; it is working and is practical.

“So, Mr. President, this is part of a promise made and a promise fulfilled,” he said.

The minister noted that ARMT, also known as Abuja Metro Line, was inaugurated in 2017 but its operation was inhibited by several factors.

Wike recalled that the fund for the Metro Line rehabilitation contract, which was awarded at $30 million in 2018, was not released until Tinubu came into office and gave the directive in September last year, that “he wants to ride on the metroline”.

Wike said, following the directive, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Minister of Finance and Accountant-General of the Federation made available the fund to the contractor, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) Ltd.

The minister said he instructed the completion of the project within nine months and closely monitored the contractor to ensure delivery.

According to him, access roads to all 12 train stations, including car parks, were built at N21.4 billion.

He said: “As I speak to you today, all those roads have been completed for people to use to the various train stations. What we are doing today is the inauguration of the commercial operation.”

On the smooth operation of the train system, the minister said that the previous administration had awarded a contract for the training of manpower for 29 months at $128 million.

Wike said he met with the contractor and was able to negotiate the cost of the manpower training from $128 million to $75 million, thereby saving the country a whopping $53 million.

Mandate Secretary, Transportation Secretariat, FCT Administration, Chinedum Elechi, noted that the ARMT project was awarded in 2007 and had a trial operation from September 2018 to March 2020.

He said that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the continuous trial operation, coupled with massive vandalism of key components, which halted the trial operation.

Elechi said that the ARMT system has 12 diesel multiple units each, with a capacity to accommodate a minimum of 700 passengers.

He added that each train was designed to run a minimum of 14 trips per day and transport approximately 9,800 passengers per day.

The mandate secretary said: “The two lots, that is, Lot 1A from Idu Station to Gbazango and Lot 3, from Metro Station to Airport, will operate two trains each simultaneously every day.

“This brings a total daily passenger count to 39,200 commuters and 980,000 commuters in 25 operational days in a month.

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