By Isaac Anumihe and Nwadigwe Nitzack Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) has raised a strong letter to Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) demanding the payments of about $315.6 million debt made under protest to the agency since 2013. In the letter, NLNG said that the sum represents direct and shipping losses incurred by…
…Mixed reactions in host communities
By Adanna Nnamani and Uju James
With the news that Phase one of Abuja Rail Mass Transit Project will be commis-sioned by December, residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have been jubilating; obviously because of the inherent benefits of the project.
The rail tran-sit, which costs $823 million (about N299 billion), is made up of lots 1A and 3, covering 45km with 12 designed passengers sta-tions, and handled by Chinese construction giant; China Civil Engineer-ing Construction Corporation (CCECC).
The Project Manager, Kong Tao, while addressing journalists who were on tour of the site at Idu, Abuja recently, said “The rail links the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, to the Central Business District. Work on the large-scale proj-ect is going on smoothly”.
According to him, it will be test-run by next month and eventually commissioned for public usage in December.
Tao said the project, af-ter completion, would generate employment and boost the com-mercial activities of the host com-munities.
“The realisation of this large-scale project will definitely de-liver much benefit to the general public, such as better investment environment.
He however, expressed concern about the vandalism of the rail facilities of the company, not minding the presence of armed security personnel.
He said that the host communi-ties often destroyed the perimeter fencing built to prevent trespass-ing on the rail track.
“Despite the presence of secu-rity personnel, thieves still oper-ate on weekly basis. This endangers lives as opera-tional trains move constantly on the rail track.
“Safety is the most important thing in our operation. Even though we built fence to prevent trespass, they break it to cross the rail rack,” he said.
Daily Sun could not confirm if the operational trains had been involved in any accidents due to the alleged recalcitrant actions of the host communities but actually saw some vandalised portions of the perimeter fence.
Nonetheless, for the host communities, the project invokes mixed feelings. While many of them eagerly expect the rail operation, others said saw it as harbinger of tears and sorrow for them.
Their indignation was traced to some unresolved issues concerning compensation to landlords and property owners along the rail track.
At Bassan Jiwa, the terminal station before the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, many respondents complained about the messy manner the authorities of the FCT Administration had allegedly handled the compensation.
Their case, according to them, was also worsened by the threat of another round of demolition for the construction of a four-lane highway in the area.
These persons, mainly traders and farmers allege that their means of livelihoods were being threatened by these two transportation projects.
One of the traders, Chief Jude said marking of their shops and buildings for demolition has put them on the edge.
According to him, “Our future here is not known. Government can do anything they like; since they came and marked this place, we even did documentation for compensation, but nothing has happened. We’re hearing that their bulldozers will soon come. In that case, we would be pushed out in this period of serious hardship.”
Regardless, Yakubu, Adamu and Ladan; all residents of Bassan Jiwa, believe that the project would open up their community and also create jobs for the teeming unemployed people there.
“I expect that the railway will impact positively on the lives of people living here especially in the area of job opportunities and business patronage. We cultivate yam a lot so people will buy more of our yam and other farm produce on their way,” Adamu stated.
In addition, Ladan expressed the optimism that rail project would also attract social amenities to the community. “We also expect better social amenities like now they are already talking about expanding and tarring our road so I believe it’s the beginning of more good things to come.”
A motorcycle operator from Akwa Ibom state, who lives in the community, Michael Isong was also upbeat that the rail project would boost his business because human traffic to the place would increase.
Also at Idu, residents of the area believe too that the activation of the airport to Idu phase would further increase human traffic in the area.
With this, they expect that business activities would get a boost.