Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has inaugurated the 1.4 billion dollars Abuja- Kaduna rail services. The President said the federal government would link all states and commercial centres in the country through rail lines.
In his address at the flag-off ceremony in Abuja, President Buhari expressed joy and hope that the good old days would soon be back in a more prosperous way with the restoration of the rail transport system.
The president, who boarded the train from the Idu to Kubwa station in Abuja, in company of the minister of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; minister of state for aviation, Hadi Sirika; governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai; Senate president, Bukola Saraki; minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mallam Mohammed Bello, and some captains of industry, noted that the Abuja-Kaduna rail passengers and freight railway was the first standard line to be constructed in the country and that he was happy to have completed the project.
He pointed out that the project was conceived by a previous administration and started by the last government and that he was pleased to complete and commission it.
President Buhari recalled that between 1963 and the early ‘80s, Nigeria had a vibrant rail system which conveyed agricultural products, livestock and solid mineral resources to Lagos and Port Harcourt seaports from where they were exported to other parts of the world.
The completed project is part of the railway modernization initiative by the West African superpower which aims to replace the existing narrow gauge system with the wider standard gauge system, while allowing high-speed train operations on the railway network. With nine stations and a design speed of 150 km per hour, the Abuja-Kaduna rail line covers a distance of 186.5 km.
Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi said the project, partly funded by the Export-Import Bank of China, is a significant milestone in the history of Nigeria. According to him, the completion of this project and the commencement of its commercial operation is a turnaround in the country's transport sector, particularly as it contributes to the development of the economy.