Nigeria: Operational Challenges Hit Abuja Light Rail

The euphoria that greeted the commissioned of West Africa first light metro rail may be dying down as a multiple of challenges are facing the metro built and managed by the Chinese.

Repeated visits to the metro station located at the central area of Abuja showed that, month after the commissioning, the metro is still running far below capacity.

Multiple issues face the service ranging from low patronage from City residents, slow speed and few locomotives and coaches. Check showed that the level of awareness of a train service between city centre to the airport is still very low.

Despite the low fare, the number of commuters is abysmally low and those few who are patronizing the service, complained about the low speeding capacity. The cost of reaching the metro state is also cited as one of the reasons for the low patronage.

Checks showed that the service also has few diesel-powered locomotives. An official told Railway Business that new modern locomotives and coaches have been ordered from China.

“When such orders are placed, it takes a bit before delivery, say 15 months or so. We are expecting new modern locomotives”, an official at the Airport Metro station noted.

A data analyst and resident of Abuja confessed that he was not aware of operational activities of the light metro, adding,” I am only aware of Abuja –Kaduna train services. I don’t know a train service exist within Abuja”, he said.

Confronted with this revelation, an official of the metro confirmed that little has been done in the area of marketing. According to him,”Management wants to take delivery of the new locomotives before launching out to real marketing.

“We are conscious of our existing limitation. Therefore, by New Year, all these will change for the better. Nigerians will rush in drove to catch the next available train”, he hinted.
The Chinese operator however keeps away from answering questions. Meanwhile, the Chinese company is running the service.
For now, the beautiful metro stations are mere empty halls.

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