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Abuja light rail to commence operation two months’ time – Minister

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There are indications that the long awaited phase one of Abuja light rail system, will finally come on stream in two to three months from now. The take off of the system is expected to reduce the traffic congestion already being experienced in some parts of the nation’s capital.

The Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Malam Mohammed Bello, who gave the hint when the management team of Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation – NTDC, led by its new Director General, Mr. Folorunsho Coker, visited him in Abuja, said the commencement of the light rail would not only help to resolve the traffic challenge of the emerging metropolitan city, but also make Abuja the tourism hub of Africa.

“Within the next two to three months, the Abuja Light Rail system phase one will be functioning. Phase one is a municipal rail system that will emanate from the airport, right to the centre of the city and terminating at what we call the metro plaza station.

“That gives people coming to Abuja or leaving Abuja option of coming to the city by light rail without having to drive the 45kilometre expressway distance, even though, on its own, the expressway offers a beautiful window on the city.”, he said.

According to the Minister, five out of the network of 12 metro stations have already been completed with massive work ongoing to ensure that the project was delivered as scheduled, for residents and visitors to the capital city to begin to have a feel of the tourism values in the rail system.

“Commuters have the option of moving from the city centre to the airport.” Other qualities that make Abuja a preferred destination, the Minister disclosed, include, “quality infrastructure, beautiful weather, strategic road networks and more importantly, its status as a diplomatic and government centre.”

“The rail station system traverses important scenes of the Abuja ecosystem and landmarks and would, among other qualities, unveil to tourists, the beautiful reliefs and panoramic landscape of the Territory. Some of these include the national stadium, a national park and the Wupa Waste Treatment Plant – the largest in Nigeria” he noted.

In his remarks, the NTDC DG stated that the Corporation plans to develop tourism destinations in the nation’s capital, so as to reverse the drifts out of city during weekends and holidays.

He stated that it was unacceptable that a city that is one of the best in terms of tourism assets in the country, should empty out during these periods. Coker also disclosed that NTDC has come out with a social media hashtag called myAbujaweekend, as one of its efforts to reverse this drift.

“We have negotiated and reached memorandum of understanding with some airlines and major hotels, who also see the potentials of using their hotels and aircrafts.

We hope to achieve a price of N50,000 for Lagos-Abuja- Lagos and two nights in a five-star hotel inclusive of airline ticket. “If you watch CNN or BBC, during the New Year eve, you see them start in Australia and they skip the whole Africa and go straight to Europe and the USA.

We believe that Nigeria as the most populous and richest country in Africa in terms of population of black people, can actually anchor that challenge and make the global news trail stop in Nigeria and I think Abuja is the best place for that to occur.”, he said.

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