The first phase of a new light rail railway line in Abuja, Nigeria, built by China Civil Engineering Construction (CCECC) through an investment of $823m, has begun commercial operations.

Developed over a period of 11 years, the first phase features 45.25km of railway tracks on two lines.

The first phase of the Abuja light rail line, which links Abuja’s international airport with other parts of the city, was officially inaugurated last week by Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari.

“This accomplishment clearly demonstrates our commitment to addressing critical infrastructural projects and keeping with the ideals of the Change Agenda to ensure prudence in the management of public resources.”

Buhari said at the inauguration: “This accomplishment clearly demonstrates our commitment to addressing critical infrastructural projects and keeping with the ideals of the Change Agenda to ensure prudence in the management of public resources, value for money considering the huge investments in this project.

“Transportation is the live wire of any city. I am very optimistic that a modern rail service would bring about a boost to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) economy and greatly enhance social life.”

Part of the Abuja rail mass transit project, the newly opened rail line is equipped with three coaches that can accommodate more than 300 passengers and is expected to carry at least 1,000 people daily, reported Xinhua.

The line comprises 12 stations, 21 operational offices, 13 bridges, 50 culverts, as well as nine pedestrian overpasses.

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CCECC will be responsible for building the second phase of the Abuja light rail line network, which will include 292km of track and six lines.

The Government of Nigeria further plans to modernise nearly 3,500km of the existing narrow-gauge lines connecting Lagos and Kano, as well as Port Harcourt and Maiduguri.