The Federal Government of Nigeria has commenced implementation of her transformation agenda in the rail sector with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) on Thursday officially flagging off the track laying of the Abuja to Kaduna railway modernisation project.
The flag off raises hope that the construction will be completed in due time.
The ongoing project is part of the transformation agenda of Nigeria’s government to commence the massive re-activation and revitalisation of the country’s railway system, according to Vice President Namadi Sambo, who officially flagged off the track laying in Idu, site of the railway project in Abuja.
Sambo commended the CCECC, foreign contractors of the railway project, for working assiduously day and night to see to the completion of the railway construction, which serves as infrastructure build-up of the government’s transformation agenda.
“I am, therefore, highly delighted to perform the official commencement of the track laying for the Abuja (Idu) to Kaduna railway modernisation project which signifies the final critical aspect towards completion of this segment of rail modernisation in Nigeria,” the vice president enthused.
He said President Goodluck Jonathan, who has proposed a state visit to China next week, is expected to discuss with the Chinese government’s possible sourcing of concessionary loans to guarantee funding the final execution of the project because execution of the contract had initially suffered a setback owing to pausity of funds.
That, according to the vice president, was why the project was later programmed for execution in phases so as to ensure a sustained funding arrangement in line with the yearly budgetary allocation and concessionary loans.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Nigeria’s Minister of Transport Umar Idris said earthworks for the project was almost completed, at 92 percent, while hydraulic structures had also attained 87 percent completion.
“Out of the 24 railway bridges to be constructed, 17 have been completed to substructure level while substructure work on the remaining seven are at various levels of completion. Four out of five box bridges have been completed while the remaining one is ongoing,” he added, noting 187 out of the 348 precast T-beams for the bridges had been produced, from which 52 had been successfully installed, among others.
The overall physical completion level so far recorded on the project is 68 percent, according to Idris.
On his own part, Managing Director of CCECC in Nigeria, Shi Hongbing said the construction firm did not just handle the project as contractors, but also as investors in the west African country.
“And for this project, until today, we’ve employed more than 4, 000 Nigerian staff during our construction time. In the recent future, after the completion and full operation of the project, more than 5,000 Nigerian staff will be trained and employed for this project,” he added.
Apart from ranking as a top international construction firm in Nigeria, the CCECC had employed more than 20,000 local workers in more than 70 contracts it had executed across the country, mainly road, bridge and railway projects.