As the official handing over approaches, President Goodluck Jonathan, has appealed to the incoming administration not to abandon ongoing projects especially the Light Rail project in the nation’s capital city, Abuja. The president also admitted that the Federal Government are owing Julius Berger and other Construction firms presently working on the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua way (Airport Road), Kubwa Outer Northern Expressway (ONEX) and the Abuja light Rail respectively, promising that he would pay the outstanding bills before he leaves office.
The President who inspected the project yesterday, took a ride in the ongoing Abuja Mass Transit Light Rail project to personally assess the extent of its implementation. The projects he inspected were the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua way (Airport Road), Kubwa Outer Northern Expressway (ONEX) and the Abuja light Rail respectively and also inspected the new rehabilitated and expanded 10-lane Airport Road named Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Expressway which is nearing completion.
The road project was 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.
The President further said; “I emphasized 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 luxurious buses. It will be too expensive. Until our rail system works, that’s why we are emphasizing 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.
“It is the plan of this government to replicate this in all the state capitals. I hope the new government will replicate it in other state capitals. “We must make sure that the most pending bill myself and the Finance Minister will be discussing now how to sort out your bills before the 29th of May, be rest assured that this project will be completed because this project has really changed the face of Abuja.
“When you visit a country, the airport and the road leading from the airport into the main city will give you the first impression of the country and that’s why we are quite passionate about it. We want to do a similar thing in Lagos, but I believe that the new government will come up and do better, we have done well and we appreciate what we are doing and we will also try and meet up our own obligation.
“These projects really have improved the face of Abuja tremendously and people come to Abuja full of praises, if you look at all these, it is really making Abuja a real modern city, we are quite pleased with the progress of work, and we will do our best to see that the commitments of the government are met.”
“Then within the big cities, Abuja, Lagos and others, we encourage governors of these states, where we need to partner with them, we partner with them, where they can do it alone, they do it to make sure that we have within the city like within these phases , though we are leaving on the 29th of May, I believe that by the time we finish this main lot one and two, this other one to come on stream maybe in two years’ time or in five years’ time, but I believe that it will come on stream.
“When people begin to enjoy this and commuters now know the cost implication that the savings is low for them, we will implore the government to handle the other one, I believe it will surely come on board, we are very hopeful that Nigerians especially residents of the FCT will enjoy this when it is ready.
Speaking further, FCTA Minister, Senator Mohammed explained that some of the advantages of the project include, to reduce the travel time on the busy airport express road, to create employment as well as improve the socio- economic well-being of Nigeria citizens.
He said, “We must accept and appreciate what the federal government has done in terms of financing this project and the outstanding payment of this project which is about N5 billion and of cause looking at the total amount of the project you will discover the federal government has done very well.”
Also speaking while inspecting the light rail project at Idu, Director of Transport, FCT Transport Secretariat, Alex Usuma, revealed that the official date of completion of the rail project remains December 2015.