Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the rail terminal at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The purpose of the rail station is to bring in travellers from various parts of the city to the airport to connect to their local and international flights. It will also move passengers from the airport to the city.
Government officials who spoke during the inauguration said Abuja is growing into a modern city with multiple transport system, which would ease traffic and also bring down the cost of movement in the capital territory.
With the inauguration of the train station, it is expected that the terminal linked to the train station would go on stream soon.
The Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Saleh Dunoma, said the terminal would start operation by October this year.
The FAAN boss said to make the terminal operational as planned, the major work to be done would be to connect the new terminal to the old one in order to have seamless passenger movement; although the new terminal is designated for travellers on international destinations.
“We are pressing the contractor to finish everything in August so that by October we can start operation in the building. So, we are working together, both the contractor, FAAN and all those involved in the project to ensure we meet our target,” he added.
Speaking about the link of the train station to the airport, the Minister of State, Aviation, Hadi Sirika said, “The impact is that it would make movement easy. Movement will be seamless. It means that you will come in from the light rail and straight into the aircraft and vice-versa.
“It also makes transportation more efficient. Everything about air transport is efficiency and this connection to the light rail will significantly impact on that.
“It will also enable people to connect to their homes and their work places in shorter time than before and also reduce the pressure on our roads. It will also ease the traffic congestion on these arteries that lead to the airport. Abuja will be a classical example of multi-modal integration of transportation, which makes things better.”
The Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, who attended the inauguration expressed happiness at the completion of the train station and said that it was the actualisation of the plan he set out as the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He commended the founding fathers of the Abuja city for including the rail infrastructure in the transport system of the city.
“I am happy it has been completed today; the first phase. I pray that the federal government would have the resources to complete more phases to make Abuja a great city to realise the dream of the founding fathers. I congratulate the Minister and his team for his relentless work they have been doing.
“I have never stopped expressing my gratitude to the government and the people of China for the support it is giving to Nigeria and other African countries in the development of their infrastructure.
“China is a good friend of Africa, Nigeria and we hope they will continue to support and finance this project and other infrastructure projects in Nigeria and Africa.”
El-Rufai noted that the facility was one of the things the country needs to be put it in a solid foundation to create jobs under the present administration and for the future.
“The impact of the project is multifarious, including the creation of job opportunities. Each train station is an economic cluster of opportunities.
“At the train stations you find hotels, you find shopping malls and other businesses, you find residential facilities. Land values are going to go up. “This is a huge, huge thing. We saw this in the Abuja master plan in 1978 and we started this project and I am happy,” he said.
The Minister of FCT, Mohammed Bello said that rail network was part of the transport infrastructure of the Abuja master plan.
“The Abuja master plan envisages rail network that has been planned in six phases (lots). Already we have commissioned phase 1. We already have Federal Executive Council (FEC) approval for phase 2 and now our intention is to encourage international investors to come and partner with us to be able to do the other two lots,” Bello said.
According to him, Nigerians should be grateful to the founders of Abuja who conceptualized the city and made a plan that “we are still implementing 40 years down the road.”
“The whole idea is that Abuja should be our own. It is a city of unity and all of us should have passion, not only the government but also the citizens. The city is what we should all be proud of and guard jealously,” he added.