The Federal Capital Territory Administration, FCTA has pledged to work closely with the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) to actualise the nation’s railway masterplan.
The FCT Minister, Malam Bello gave the assurance when he received a delegation of the NRC led by its Board Chairman, Engineer Ibrahim Alhassan Musa, on a courtesy visit to the FCTA.
The Minister noted that the design of the master plan envisaged Abuja as the railway hub of the nation with the sheer number of lines that would crisscross the Territory.
He said the location of Abuja made it a natural choice, not only for the railway hub but also the air hub of the nation.
According to him, “I wish to assure you that we will continue to work very closely with the Nigerian Railway Corporation to actualise the concept of the railway masterplan, that speculates Abuja as the hub, in terms which will eventually crisscross here.”
“Already, it’s an air hub and it’s only natural that it will also be a railway hub. It’s just the reality of geography. By its very location, it’s the natural thing to do and I assure you that we will work very closely with you to make sure that this is achieved,” he stated.
Speaking on the resumption of operations of the Abuja light rail which was suspended at the advent of the Covid -19 pandemic, the Minister gave assurance that operations would resume in the near future, depending on how the pandemic plays out.
“When the Nigerian Railway Corporation re-opened their systems we couldn’t and it was simply based on health concerns.
“The Light Rail system, the way it is configured and even the coaches, the way they are designed are meant to sit very few people and to have almost 75 per cent of the passengers in standing position. We realised that there was absolutely no way we could ensure social distancing in that situation,” he said.
“As you know, unless we reach a very wide coverage of vaccination and we have what the medical people call herd immunity, there is no way we are going to run the light rail system and ensure that passengers are conveyed in safety. That is the main reason why up till now, we have not resumed operations,” the Minister stated.
The NRC board chairman, Engineer Ibrahim Alhassan Musa commended the FCT Minister for his efforts in contributing to President Muhammadu Buhari’s focus in revitalising the Nigerian railway sector through the Abuja metro rail system which was commissioned in 2018.
Also present during the visit were the Chief of Staff to the Honourable Minister, Malam Bashir Mai-Bornu, Executive Secretary, FCDA, Tpl Zaliha’u Ahmed, Managing Director, NRC, Engineer Freeborn Okhiria and other senior management staff of the FCTA and members of the NRC Board.