On Tuesday, 26 July, President Muhamadu Buhari will formally commission the Abuja-Kaduna railway service. The railway line connects Abuja, Nigeria’s capital to Kaduna, an important commercial centre 200km to its north. The new railway line is one of Nigeria’s Standard Gauge Railway Modernization Projects (SGRMP).
The new rail line is expected to enhance social and economic activities, by enabling the faster movement of goods and people between the two cities. The railway project is one of Nigeria’s railway modernization initiative which aims to replace the existing narrow gauge system with a wider standard gauge system which carries faster high speed trains.
Construction for the 187km project was awarded in 2011 to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC). The project cost an estimated $874m and funding was provided by a partnership between the Nigerian Federal Government and China’s EXIM bank which granted a concessionary loan for the project.
During construction, the project provided approximately 4,000 direct jobs and authorities say it is expected to create an additional 5000 more when fully operational. The modernized Abuja-Kaduna railway line is a stand-alone segment which would form a part of the planned 1,124km Lagos-Kano standard gauge modernisation project which when operational, would run through an extensive portion of Africa’s most populous country.
The new Abuja-Kaduna rail line starts off at the Idu station near Abuja and terminates at Rigasa station, a small settlement on the outskirts of Kaduna. Along the route, it has nine other minor stations for passengers to board and disembark.
The new railway line features both passenger and cargo trains. And authorities promise that the air conditioned passenger trains which can carry up to 5,000 commuters, offer economy and business class coaches that will cost a relatively affordable N600 ($2) and N900 ($3) respectively, while travelling at speeds of between 150km/h and 250km/h. The cargo trains can ferry an impressive 800 tonnes of goods either way but will travel at a slightly slower speed.
Already, residents of the surrounding communities at the two train stations at Idu and Rigasa are positioning themselves to benefit from the citing of the project. Speaking to the Vanguard, a resident Abubakar Mohammed said:
You can see how traders are displaying their goods for passengers to buy at the terminal, it is an indication of the positive impact the train services will have here.
A community leader in Rigasa, Yakubu Muhammad also lauded the railway project for improving the security situation in his community.