By Oru Leaonard
In furtherance of the commitment of Buhari led administration to ensure transport availability and ease for Nigerians, President Buhari has assured Nigerians that his government would pursue a 25-year Strategic Railway Master plan that aimed at rehabilitating the existing 3,505km narrow gauge rail line as well as constructing new standard gauge rail line across the country.
To show commitment to this promise the president commissioned the first phase of the Abuja-Kaduna Standards Rail Gauge that was embarked upon by Obansajo’s administration.
President Buhari said the train service would 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.
It would be recalled that in the 1960s and 80s, the country had a vibrant rail system which conveyed agricultural, livestock and solid mineral resources to Lagos and Port Harcourt sea ports from where they were exported.
“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,” the president said while expressing optimism that it would make life easier for the generality of Nigerians through the development and provision of necessary social and physical infrastructure.
With serious commitment, the rail system and the rehabilitation of the existing 3,505km narrow gauge rail line and the developing and constructing new standard gauge rail lines across the country, there would be rapid socioeconomic development and improvement in the quality of life and the promotion of social and regional integration.
Former FCT Minister and Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, under whom the project was initiated, had lamented that the project which was intended to be completed in only four years had to be abandoned because the subsequent governments were not interested in it.
He said it was regrettable that only a portion of the project that was to cost N8 billion was commissioned 10 years down the line. He commended President Buhari for buying into the vision of the Obasanjo administration in providing a cheaper and more affordable means of transportation to the teeming Nigerian population by revisiting the project.
According to the current FCT Minister, Muhammad Musa Bello, the completion and commissioning of the project would mark a complete turnaround in the economic lives of residents of the territory who are the immediate beneficiary of the project.
The minister assured that the Abuja intercity rail project being executed by the FCT was 77 percent completed, assuring that by December 2017, the project would be completed and commissioned.