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Nigeria revives light rail line in capital, offers free rides

NIGERIA re-opened the first phase of a Chinese-built light railway network in the capital Abuja, four years after it was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and immediately announced free rides for commuters.

Built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation at a cost of $823 million, the railway network at present consists of 45.25 kilometres (28.12 miles) of track on two lines. When completed, there will be six lines and 292 kilometres of track.

On Wednesday, President Bola Tinubu led a ceremony to re-open the train service that had been shut in 2020, more than a year after it began operating.

The government had mulled free rides for two months but Tinubu said commuters should not pay until the end of the year.

He did not say how his government would fund the free service, but it will be welcomed by commuters who are grappling with high transport costs after the removal last year of a popular petrol subsidy.

The railway network connects the international airport with other parts of the city.

Many people who work in Nigeria’s capital live on the outskirts of Abuja or satellite towns, due to the high cost of living in inner city areas and traffic can be heavy at peak hours.

By The African Mirror