President Muhammadu Buhari today (Tuesday, July 26, 2016), commissioned the first phase of Abuja (Idu) – Kaduna (Rigasa) Standards Rail Gauge after its commencement about seven years ago.
Before the official commissioning, passengers and goods were transported free of charge along these routes during the test run period of the train services. The modern rail project which runs into billions of dollars began under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan and got to an advanced stage before the emergence of President Buhari.
President Buhari spoke at the Idu main train station, Abuja, and revealed that the Federal Government plans to link all states and commercial centres in the country with rail lines. After the commissioning, the nation’s number one man and others present took a train ride from Idu to Kubwa, a suburb of Abuja.
According to Buhari, “The construction of the Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge rail track commenced in 2009 and happily, seven years after, we are on the threshold of presenting to Nigerians a Standard Gauge Railway Train Service that will be safe, fast and reliable.
“The train service will provide the much needed alternative transport link between the Federal Capital Territory and Kaduna State, a corridor which has a huge potential for industries, agricultural activities, and a growing labour force.
“This project was conceived by a previous administration, started by the last government and I am pleased to complete and commission it.
“It is our vision and hope that those good old days will soon be back with us and indeed in a more prosperous way with the restoration of rail transport system which today’s occasion.
“In this regard, I wish to assure Nigerians that most State capitals and major commercial and production centres will be linked with railway system as a way of bringing about rapid socio-economic development and improving the quality of life of the Nigerians and promoting social and regional integration.
“Furthermore, I wish to also reassure Nigerians that due attention will be placed on pursuing the 25-Year Strategic Railway Master Plan which is aimed at rehabilitating the existing 3,505km narrow gauge rail line and developing and constructing new standard gauge rail lines across the country.”
Nigerians are tipped to expect more launching of other rail lines and infrastructural projects, including the major Lagos-Calabar and Kano-Lagos lines.
Buhari spoke with excitement: “As we celebrate the symbolic return of rail service today, I wish to reiterate the commitment of this Administration to pursue with greater vigour and determination rehabilitation and construction of other rail lines including the major Lagos-Calabar and Kano-Lagos lines.
“As we get down to work, I look forward to flagging off many more lines outlined in our transport policy programme.”
This will be recorded as one of the present administrations landmark’s achievements, though it was birthed during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration in 2006, and launched in 2009 during the regime of the administration of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
For Buhari, the commissioning is in line with the vision of bringing about the desired change to ease lifestyle of the public through development and provision of the necessary social and physical infrastructure.
Dignitaries at the flag-off of commercial operations on the Abuja-Kaduna rail line were Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Mahmud Mohammed; Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi ; Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State; Minister of the FCT, Muhammad Bello and Minister of State for Transportation (Aviation), Senator Hadi Sirika, among others.
-Seyifunmi Adebote for encomium.ng