Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari opened the first phase of a new metro-rail service in Abuja, the capital, for public use eight years after the project was initiated.
“The completion of this very important project is a dream come true,” Buhari said Thursday in a speech during the ceremony. “This accomplishment clearly demonstrates our commitment to addressing critical infrastructural projects.”
The first phase of the Abuja light rail system has two lines with connections to the airport and the national rail network. The entire metro system, comprising 290 kilometers (180 miles), is being built by China Civil Engineering and Construction Corp at a cost of $824 million, partly funded by loans from the Export-Import Bank of China, which is providing 60 percent, according to the Abuja city administration. It will span the entire city and will be developed in six phases.
An additional $194 million will be provided by China’s Exim Bank for the supply of 48 coaches for the metro as well as their maintenance for three years, Federal Capital Territory Minister Muhammad Bello said in an emailed statement.
Nigeria, Africa’s most-populous nation and biggest oil producer, wants to boost economic expansion to about 3.5 percent this year, partly by investing almost a third of the budget in roads, rail, ports and power.