This article lauds the long-overdue commencement of the Abuja Light Railway project. The writer is of the opinion that because the Lagos public transportation system is such a disaster, we need to prevent Abuja from becoming another Lagos, hence the light railway.
Ok, we're not tryin to spark any Lagos-Abuja tension here, but this article hit a nerve...WHY IS THERE A MORE URGENT NEED (IN THE EYES OF OUR GOVERNMENT) FOR A LIGHT RAILWAY IN ABUJA THAN IN LAGOS? Even if we accept the grossly inaccurate census results, Lagos' population is by far greater than that of the FCT, and so does a light railway (if indeed that's where $841 million of our reserves should be going at this time) make more sense in Abuja than anywhere else (even Lagos!)? Thoughts pls?
THE ABUJA LIGHT RAILWAY - This Day Online
Last week, President Olusegun Obasanjo laid the foundation of the light railway system in Abuja. If properly and promptly executed, the project will provide the nation's capital the much needed back-up to road transportation.
Coming three decades after the founding of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the project is long over due. Over that period Abuja's population, both human and vehicular, has out-grown projections. This has brought strains on the available infrastructure, which has in turn resulted in adverse environmental conditions associated with over-crowding. The situation would have been even worse but for the drastic measures embarked upon by this government to redress the abuses inflicted on the Abuja Master Plan.
Initiating the light rail project to ease the movement of people and goods in the federal capital, though late, is commendable. The comment by the FCT Minister, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, on the occasion puts succinctly the rationale for the scheme. His words: "The importance of this ceremony is better captured when we realise that the chaotic transportation system in Lagos was one of the reasons for the re-location of the seat of government from Lagos to Abuja by the visionary leadership of the Murtala/Obasanjo regime of 1976. In accordance with the Abuja Master Plan and globally accepted norms, cities with a population of over 1.5 million people should have integrated public transportation system of which the railway is a major component."
The minister's reference to Lagos should serve as a booster to the determination of government, the contractors, financiers and indeed Abuja residents to accord the plan the prime attention it deserves. Today, despite the shifting of government machinery from Lagos, the city remains a victim of over-population- occasioned largely by the search for the proverbial greener pasture- and a perennial traffic disorder. In that atmosphere, productivity is hampered and the value of life is diminished. Only bold steps like constructing the rail can steer the present capital away from the path of becoming another Lagos.
With a projected capital of $841 million and completion date of four years, the Abuja light rail system will not only enjoy adequate funding, but will also hopefully be accorded priority by the in-coming administration. Its scope is impressive, having been designed to cover strategic locations like Garki Area 10, Central Area, Wuse Neighbourhood Centre, Jabi, Life Camp, Karmo, Gwagwa, Kubwa, National Stadium, Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport among others. Given the huge volume of commuters and vehicles that emanates from these areas, access to the proposed railway would reduce pressure on the roads appreciably and impact positively on the city's well-being and aesthetics. Ultimately, the entire country and its people stand to gain from a decent and orderly federal capital.
The administration of Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua should, therefore, ensure that the terms of the contract are honoured and well guided to achieve the desired result.