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Light Rail Project: Wike Expresses Displeasure at Security Lapses, Pace of Work

… Troubled Over Possibility of Not Meeting May 2024 Completion Date

The FCT Minister, Barrister Nyesom Wike has expressed dissatisfaction with observable security lapses at the Abuja Metro Station, lamenting that the theft and vandalism of rail infrastructure were still happening, despite the security contract meant to secure the facilities.

He made his feelings known Thursday while on an inspection tour of the Abuja Rail Mass Transit Scheme also known as the Abuja Light Rail Project, accompanied by senior officials of the FCTA and the construction company, the Minister visited the Abuja Metro Station in the Central Business District and the Kukwaba II Train station, as well as the station’s access road, still under construction.

The Minister explained that the visits to the station were necessitated by the need for him to see for himself, the pace and quality of work on the light rail project in preparation for the commissioning ceremony scheduled for May 2024.

The Minister also bemoaned the absence of perimeter fencing around the metro station, saying that the absence could be the reason for the continued theft and vandalism of rail infrastructure.

.Barr. Wike therefore promised to immediately look into the issue, adding that a different approach would be adopted to address the security challenges.

He said: “When we visited the metro station, I discovered that there are issues of security lapses and I remember when I came for the first time after our inauguration, I did say that they have to work on the issue of security by putting on the fence around the metro station in order to ward off criminals.

“Unfortunately, that has not been done. To my surprise, I discovered that the contract was not even awarded to CCECC. It’s a different contract that was awarded by the FCT and this is my first time of hearing that and we are going to take it up immediately to see that it is put in place because you can’t talk about operation when you have not addressed the issue of security.” He therefore directed that the security contractors to ensure improved security in the stations.

The Minister also expressed displeasure with some aspects of the designs in both stations especially the lack of central cooling systems and poor design of the access road at Kukwaba station.

In the words of the Minister: “From what I have seen, the designs are very poor. Whoever may have approved the designs is unfair to Nigerians. I’ve told CCECC that this kind of design is not even acceptable in their own country and if I had known before now, I would not have promised Mr. President that it would be ready”.

The Minister said “The design of the access roads linking to the various stations, those who conceptualized it, people will always talk about money and so they rush into things without properly evaluating and seeing the benefit it will accrue to the residents and to the users. The conceptualization is not the best, but again what do you do? This is what is on ground. We have to see how we can finish it on time.

The Minister hinted that although his tour of the projects has created doubts on the possibility of meeting the May 2024 deadline for their completion and commissioning, he remained optimistic that with hard work and commitment on the part of all those concerned, the scheduled commissioning dates in May were still attainable.

He said “But be it as it may, we still have to work round the clock to see that we achieve our results and I’ve also directed that the stations must be cleaned. All the things that are not there must be provided. There will be no room for excuses at all.

He said President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has released the funds for the projects, adding that he would not be happy if by May , the FCT is not able to operate the metro line. “It will be very disastrous for me”, the Minister said, adding that excuses would not be accepted.

According to him: “That’s why it’s not good for you to be in the office. You have to go and see things for yourself and not depend on the reports coming from the field. You can imagine if I am sitting in the office and then depending on the reports from those who said they are in the field, by the time I will come here in May, I will be messed up. But I thank God that I came to see things for myself.”

“But frankly speaking, knowing where I’m coming from, having presided over projects like this, I’m not in a happy mood at all”.

Also on the tour were the Permanent Secretary, Mr Olusade Adesola, the MD of the CCECC, Mr David Wang the Mandate Secretary of the Transportation Secretariat, Arch. Ubokutom Nyah and senior officials of the FCTA and the CCECC.

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