For Victor Ikure, working as a train operator for the newly commissioned light rail in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja is almost a dream come true.
The 28-year-old Nigerian had a dream of playing an important role in the growth of the transport sector in his country when he bagged a degree in transport management technology from a local college two years ago.
“Working here is a stepping stone for me, and it is taking me closer to my dream,” said Ikure, who currently works at the Abuja Metro Station, the hub of the light rail transportation network commissioned on July 12.
He is one of more than 120 local people hired and trained to manage Lot 1A and Lot 3 of the light rail that was completed in December by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).
Although he learned transport management technology in the college, Ikure had neither operated a train before nor had basic knowledge of how it worked until he was hired by the Chinese firm and was trained by CCECC for two months before becoming a train operator.
“I had the general knowledge and overview of road transportation, but I never had the opportunity to learn about the railway and use systems as complex as this,” he told Xinhua.
“It was when I joined CCECC that I got to learn so much here. I never imagined that I could get a job here to work as a train operator.”
Many others like Ikure now have the right exposure in their areas of specialization, having got trained in various departments of the train service, including signal and communication, train driving and track maintenance.
The Chinese firm plans to hire and train at least 1,000 people to work on the light rail network when it begins full operation later, according to Yang Qiulin, an operation officer of the CCECC in Abuja.
The 45-kilometer light rail commissioned is the first phase of Abuja mass transit project which will have six lines or lots on completion, with a total length of 290 kilometers, offering intra-city shuttle service and connecting Abuja’s satellite towns into the metropolitan transport.
Only three stations have been functional so far, though nine others have been completed on the Lot 1A and Lot 3 parts of the project, while the operators await more rolling stock from China.
Abuja, with a population of 4 million, is a relatively new city in Nigeria, but one of the fastest developing cities in Africa.