President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to commission the recently completed first Phase of the Abuja light rail project on Thursday, July 12 and would flag-off the railway services to begin operations of the rail services in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary in the FCT, Cosmas Uzodinma, said that the phase, which comprises Lots 1A and 3, is only an integral part of the six Lots which form the scope of the FCT railway system.

The statement said that the event would take place in the Abuja Metro Station, in the Central Business District – the flagship of the twelve completed railway stations under this package.

It said that the 45.245 kilometre standard gauge rail line running between the Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and the Abuja Metro Station is the first of its kind in West Africa.

It said that the project has been in the works for over 11 years and was completed by the Buhari government, adding that it was inherited at 63 percent completion.

This was even as the FCTA minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has solicited the partnership of the Nigerian Railway Corporation to ensure a hitch free operation of the Abuja rail mass transit system.

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At a meeting with officials of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), last week, the minister said that the administration would require the support, supervision and guidance of the regulators for a smooth take-off.

Malam Bello said that some skeletal staff have already been employed to start some of the operations, adding that the expertise and experience of NRC would also be indispensable.

“Based on your observations and your guidance, we will really appreciate support from you so that we start a skeletal thing as we don’t want a situation whereby Mr. President commissions the project on the 12th of July and we just shut up shop. We intend to run it from the Airport to the Central Business District gradually for the people to know about it and for us to go through the learning curve.”

The General Manager of NRC, Engineer Fidet Ohiria, pledged the support of the Corporation towards the successful running of the Abuja Light Rail Project.

He said that the services would include capacity building, personnel and certification.