President Goodluck Jonathan on Thursday, inspected work on the ongoing Abuja Light Rail project by taking a ride in the mass transit facility .
He said the experience he gained will avail him the needed information to prepare his note to debrief the President-elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), when both meet as part of the ongoing transition programme.
He also inspected the newly rehabilitated and expanded 10-lane Airport Road, named: Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Expressway, which is nearing completion.
The road project is part of the Outer Southern Expressway and Outer Northern Expressway that had been awarded by the administration of Yar’Adua at the cost of N257 billion in separate lots to Julius Berger, Messrs Dantata and Sawoe and CGC Nigeria Limited.
Guided by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Senator Bala Mohammed and the Minister of State, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, the President boarded the Light train from Ring Road 2 Light Rail Station around Jabi for a 10-minute to Idu Transfer Station.
On arrival at the Transfer Station which is still under construction, he received technical briefing from officials of the FCT and the contracting firm, CCECC before inspecting facilities at the station.
The President told reporters that the Light Rail project was important for Nigerians particularly Abuja residents and therefore dismissed fears that it could be abandoned by the incoming administration of Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd).
He said he had personally inspected progress on the project in order to know what exactly to tell Buhari when both of them discuss later.
Jonathan stressed the importance of rail development in effective mass transit in the country as he observed that any other way would be inefficient and more expensive.
He said he was impressed at the level of work on the rail project and specially commended the Ministers of the FCT and the contractors handling the job for their efforts.
The President who congratulated Nigerians for the development, said: “I emphasised the need for train system in terms of developing an effective mass transit in any nation.
“We will be talking about mass transit and you cannot talk about mass transit using taxis, small cars, even the luxury buses. It will be too expensive.
“Until our rail system works, that’s why we are emphasising inter city and intra city, normal rail intra city light rail systems.
“Of course, this government is leaving on the 29th. The incoming government will definitely continue because this is a noble project to Nigerians especially residents of the FCT.
“We are quite appreciative of the level of cooperation. The CCECC has been doing very well. Of course, the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory. They are doing wonderfully well.
“I’m quite impressed. I have be wanting to come and inspect the project for a very long time but for challenges in terms of my commitments.
“I think, this period, I really need to so that when I am having conversation with the incoming president, I will know exactly what to tell him because I have seen it myself, I have seen the level of completion.
“Of course, you know the usefulness of this project in terms of easing the movement of the people in the Federal Capital Territory.
“I have to congratulate Nigerians for this project.”
Speaking, the FCT Minister assured that the rail project would be completed by August this year as all equipment needed for the completion have been delivered.
He said the Jonathan’s administration was able to secure a financial plan of $500millon loan for the project while Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme (SURE-P) provided N20 billion counterpart funding.
“Right now we have taken up to 61 percent of the sum. We do not have so much of financing challenges except for the next fiscal year which has been accommodated in the budget,” Senator Mohammed stated.