The FCT Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has pledged that FCT Administration will work closely with the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) towards the actualization of the nation’s railway masterplan.
The assurance was given by Malam Bello 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 predicted based on the design of the masterplan that Abuja would emerge as the railway hub of the nation with the sheer number of lines that will eventually crisscross the Territory.
He 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.
“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”, the Minister said.
“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.
The minister explained that the FCTA was constrained to maintain the suspension of the light rail services as a way of mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and insisted that the suspension will remain in force until the situation improves substantially.
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 distancing 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”.
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.