By Peter Usman://
The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has assured that the FCT Administration will work closely with the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) for the actualization of the nation’s railway masterplan.
Malam Bello gave the assurance when he received a delegation of the NRC led by its Board Chairman, Engr. Ibrahim Alhassan Musa, on a courtesy visit to the FCTA.
The Minister who said that the design of the masterplan envisages Abuja as the railway hub of the nation with the sheer number of lines that will eventually crisscross the Territory, added that the location of Abuja made it a natural choice for it to not only hold the position of railway hub but also the air hub of the nation.
In the words of the Minister: “I wish to assure you that we will continue to work very closely with the Nigerian Railway Corporation to actualize the concept of the railway masterplan,, that envisages Abuja as the hub, in terms of all the lines that will eventually crisscross here”.
“Already, it’s an air hub and it’s only natural that it will also be a railway hub. It’s just the reality of geography. By its very location, it’s the natural thing to do and I assure you that we will work very closely with you to make sure that this is achieved”, he added.
Speaking on the resumption of operations of the Abuja light rail which was suspended at the advent of the Covid -19 pandemic, the Minister assured that operations will resume in the near future, depending on how the pandemic plays out.
He said “When the Nigerian Railway Corporation re-opened their systems we couldn’t and it was simply based on health concerns. The Light Rail system, the way it is configured and even the coaches, the way they are designed are meant to sit very few people and to have almost 75 percent of the passengers in standing position. We realized that there was absolutely no way we could ensure social distance in that situation”.
The Minister added, “As you know, unless we reach a very wide coverage of vaccination and we have what the medical people call herd immunity, there is no way we are going to run the light rail system and ensure that passengers are conveyed in safety. That is the main reason why up till now, we have not resumed operations”.
Speaking earlier, the NRC board chairman, Engr. Ibrahim Alhassan Musa commended the FCT Minister for his efforts in contributing to President Muhammadu Buhari’s focus in revitalizing the Nigerian railway sector through the Abuja metro rail system which was commissioned in 2018.
Also present during the visit were the, Chief of Staff to the Honourable Minister, Malam Bashir Mai-Bornu, Executive Secretary, FCDA, Tpl Zaliha’u Ahmed, Managing Director, NRC, Engr. Freeborn Okhiria and other senior management staff of the FCTA and members of the NRC Board.