Business / Economy

Nigeria flags off commercial operation on China-assisted rail project

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-07-27 15:55
ABUJA - Nigeria marked a symbolic progress of railway service on Tuesday when its first completed standard gauge railway modernization project assisted by China, was open for commercial operation.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari flagged off the commercial operation of the rail service, linking the capital city Abuja and the northwestern state of Kaduna, following the smooth completion of the railway construction by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).

The completed project is part of the railway modernization initiative by the West African superpower which aims at replacing the existing narrow gauge system with the wider standard gauge system, while allowing high-speed train operations on the railway network.

With nine stations and a design speed of 150 km per hour, the Abuja-Kaduna rail line covers a distance of 186.5 km.

Buhari said the train service will provide the much-needed alternative transport link between the nation's capital city and Kaduna State, a corridor of growing labor force which has a huge potential for industries and agricultural activities.

"We are on the threshold of presenting to Nigerians a standard gauge railway train service that will be safe, fast and reliable," the Nigerian leader said.

Transport Minister Rotimi Amaechi said the project, partly funded by the Export-Import Bank of China, is a significant milestone in the history of Nigeria.

According to him, the completion of this project and the commencement of its commercial operation is a turnaround in the country's transport sector, particularly as it contributes to the development of the economy.

In an interview with Xinhua, Yuan Li, the chairman of CCECC, said the completed rail line would ease the traffic congestion between Abuja and Kaduna.

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