By Ewache Ajefu (An Updated Story)
All hitches that had hitherto plagued the Multi-Billion-Naira Abuja Light Rail Project were Friday laid to rest as the FCT Administration and the Chinese firm handling the project, CCECC formally signed a modified variation of scope agreement.But the minister also made a startling revelation that the project has recorded 20 per cent completion with over N22 billion expended so far.
FCT Minister, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed who signed on behalf of the FCT Administration expressed assurances that Railway Services will be delivered to the residents of the Territory during the transformation period of President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Minister remarked that they have a covenant with the people of Nigeria through the mandate given to President Goodluck Jonathan and that the FCT Administration under him will surely strive to meet up with all campaign promises as it concerns Abuja.
Senator Mohammed recalled that this project commenced in 2006 with plans to finance it through a $500 million loan from Chinese Nexim Bank as well as funds from the Federal Government and the FCT Administration but actually started in 2009 because of lack of funds.
The Minister revealed that without the $500 million loan envisaged, the FCT Administration and the Federal Government kick started the project and have so far expended over N22 billion with 20 percent completion.
He disclosed that during this period, the project has been reviewed to include the flyovers, bridges and under passes thereby having a variation of scope which has increased the entire work from 60.67 kilometer to 77.78 kilometer.
According to him, his administration has been able to fast track the process by getting the Bureau for Public Procurement certificate of no objection as well as the nod of the Federal Executive Council.
He also revealed that the project has been phased to enable his administration practically put the train and coaches on Abuja rail track before May 2015.
The Minister reiterated that this signing ceremony is very significant because it promises turn around in the Abuja transportation system.
Speaking earlier, the Vice President of CCECC, who is also the Managing Director of CCECC Nigeria Limited, Mr. Cao Bau Gang appreciated the support of the FCT minister to have gone this far.
Mr. Gang promised to finish the project within 36 months; stating that it will largely contribute to the economic development of the Federal Capital Territory.
He said that his company will train indigenous staff to take over and manage the project when completed.
The signing ceremony was also attended by the FCT Minister of State, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, FCT Permanent Secretary, Engr. Anthony Ozodinobi, FCT Chief of Staff, as well as FCTA top functionaries