The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the Abuja-Kaduna rail project is 100 per cent completed and will be launched in May.
Mr. Amaechi announced this at Idu, Abuja, on Thursday, while inspecting the project along with the contractors, China Civil Engineering Construction Company.
According to him, before the launch by President Muhammadu Buhari, the rail would be test-run in March, adding that during that period, passengers will board for free.
“The essence of my tour is to enable us assess whether we are ready for commercial activities and I think we are. I will be travelling from Abuja to Kaduna tomorrow through the rail.
“In March, they should start the test-run of the rail services for free, then the proper commercial activity will start in May, where we expect the president to flag-off the use of coaches,” he said.
He said N150 billion would be used to execute the national rail project, with another N60 billion for the Lagos-Kano standard gauge and yet another N60 billion for the Lagos-Calabar project.
“What we are doing is implementation of what we met in office. We are not among those who will abandon good ideas.
“If we see an idea that is good, we will adopt it. The Lagos-Kano project was awarded by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and we are flying with it.
“The Lagos-Calabar project was awarded by former President Goodluck Jonathan and we are also flying with it. What we are doing is implementing those projects that have not been implemented for so many years,” the minister said.
He further said Idu, the location of the rail, was too far from the city centre, adding that the contractor should make provisions for temporary stations in the city.
Mr. Amaechi suggested that since the Abuja light rail project was yet to commence, the tracks could be used to pick passengers from the city centre to Kaduna.
“The Abuja light rail is expected to start from Abuja and de-board passengers at Idu from where such passengers will move to Kaduna but since the Abuja light rail is not ready, we shall use their tracks to continue to pick passengers from Abuja until they are ready and then we will disengage the temporary facility.
“The role of the station is to convey passengers to Idu, where they will be transferred to the national rail line to proceed to Kaduna,” he explained.
He said the only challenge with the project was the fencing aspect.