By IKENNA EMEWU and NNEKA NWAOKORIE
An itinerant delivery man in Abuja has his earning tied to the number of deliveries he makes. With the turn the general economy has taken in Nigeria where cost of things –electricity tariff to pump price of petroleum have gone higher and pushing other indices up in the cycle, coping gets really testy.
On a typical day, Emmanuel Etim who rather prefers you call him EE, runs through the streets and highways of Abuja from his Kubwa satellite town residence to his office in Utako. He says the free traffic in Abuja used to be a big incentive some 13 years ago when he got the job. But lately, no. He has started losing momentum as the traffic situation gets less friendly.
Speaking with him at the international airport where he goes to pick up or drop deliveries, he said he was excited to hear that the city train would start plying the airport in full scale when the Covid-19 pressure eases.
“I can also ride the train and make my deliveries. Even if I can’t, since many residents will, the vehicles they would have put on the road will be off the traffic and I will have more peace and deliver more parcels faster. That is good business for me.”
To him such news revives hope of his personal economy.
In the city, there are thousands whose livelihoods are directly tied to the transport system in the city, and such have already started welcoming a new lease of life as the alternative transport means in the city kick in.
These alternatives have been made possible with the near completion of the Abuja integrated mass transit system (IMTS), a project of the federal government and the Federal Capital Territory Authority.
The execution has been handled by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC). The company beyond the FCT transportation projects has a tradition of good faith in all its projects in the past 39 years of operation in Nigeria.
Tottering at decay
Until recent innovations, Abuja had been a city on the tenterhooks regarding traffic crisis as it grows larger every day to an acclaimed status of one of the fastest expanding cities of the world.
Those that knew the city in the 1990s and early 2000 would tell that Abuja is already relapsing into transportation or traffic anarchy.
The reason? Abuja city transport stands on one leg. All residents move by one means – just the road which is far from what obtains in modern cities and at the class and standard of Abuja as the capital of Africa’s largest country and economy.
If the Abuja roads clog, every movement comes to a halt.
By its location, water transport is ruled out in the city, therefore, the possible alternatives to road transport are air, rail and the subway system.
Abuja, the youngest city in Africa should have ordinarily taken off with a subway service system.
Good, free and assured transport system that aims at tomorrow in Abuja mean everything to its economy and liveability.
At a point, the government realized this and started making moves towards walking Abuja ahead to where it is supposed to be.
The country’s young capital city is less than 40 years old and just some 28 years effectively as the seat of power. Things had already started relapsing into the chaotic lane when the government decided to intervene some 13 years ago.
It started with the expansion of existing narrow roads in the days of President Umar Yar’Adua whose works on the Zuba-Kubwa-AYA 50km road did the magic of making the city outlive the traditional nagging gridlock of that axis. But even today, a pin that stops crawling on that road can instantly tie a traffic knot in a matter of minutes.
The airport road, now christened Yar’Adua Way underwent same expansion that also helped relax the traffic tension. The interchanges on these two roads also made exit and ingress into the highways safer and easier.
While these were on, the government had its eyes set on better alternatives which ultimately would be an integrated transport system, within, into and out of the sprawling city.
Experience was what counted on what would make the objective possible and a seamless integrated transport system operable within the central Abuja and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
As at the end of 2018, the city’s population had grown to 4.2m, with about 2 million commuting to work everyday, from FCTA data. That population has already defeated in a jiffy the 3 million volume Abuja was built to contain. The figure differential gives a better picture of why the city has started chocking in bloated traffic even with continuous road expansions and extensions. Yet, this is in the face of the reality that Abuja would grow larger and faster in years to come.
Economics of Abuja transportation
The capital city is Nigeria’s 13th largest economy by states with a GDP of $5.4 billion and number 14 in living standards which better transportation can tremendously improve upon. The Abuja GDP per capita of $1,292 is far better than that of Lagos. Its GDP growth rate is 5.9% a year. No doubt, from experience and empirical facts, a better transport system is sure bet to take the indices higher.
As an instance, report says that Lagosians waste three of every 10 years of their lives in traffic. That translates to 30% of every day of their activities in traffic.
This has effect on practical economy, earning, health, safety of the environment, longevity of the vehicles, social safety, crimes etc.
Businessman, Aliko Dangote said in 2018 that the congestion on the Apapa port road in Lagos bled his business N25 billion in less than two years between early 2017 and late 2018. The major cause of the loss was the total transportation system collapse of the district. This is a tip of the entire loss matrix of the city.
That is exactly what would be replicated in Abuja and any city where there are such transportation crises situations.
Integrated rescue plan
The import underscores the roles the facilities in the integrated Abuja transportation system play in the wellbeing of the city and Nigeria. The system has three arms – the Abuja metro light rail; Abuja-Kaduna railway and the upscale Abuja International airport. These three are interlinked with railway tracks with the node at the Idu train Station.
ACE uncovered the benefits of the onerous role of keeping faith with the policy of the government of Nigeria to recreate Abuja, its economy, social wellbeing and political functions by building those modern transport facilities.
Visits to the remodeled Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport with the new international terminal in operation, the Idu Train Station, a ride to Kaduna and back by train, and visits to the Abuja metro light rail, though not in use due to the coronavirus scare beamed some light on what new lease of life Abuja would soon live with or had started living with. These benefits are bound to improve, thereby recreating its economy. These were all built by the CCECC.
Abuja rail mass transit project
The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) in its desire to actualize the Abuja Rail Master Plan (ARMP) awarded a contract for design, construction, procurement, installation and testing of the Abuja Rail Mass Transit (ARMT) project to the CCECC in May, 2007.
The dream came into fruition on June 12, 2018 when that Thursday morning, President Muhammadu Buhari took the first ride of the Abuja metro light rail from the city downtown to the international airport.
That was four days after the 9th International Infrastructure Investment and Construction Summit where the CCECC on June 8 presented a detailed paper on “Building an Integrated and Efficient Transport System Solution to Abuja Urban Transport.”
As inconsistent funding was a major challenge to the effective execution of the project, FCTA decided to implement the project in phases and Phase I includes Lots 1A and 3 of 45.2km.
For the Phase I, the China EXIM Bank offered a preferential buyer credit facility agreement of $500 million to the Federal Ministry of Finance in November 2012 to reboot the project. This made the completion of the project smooth and successful in December 2017, and it commenced operation in July 2018.
Engr. Kong Tao, General Manager of the railway project in the past 10 years revealed a determination on the side of the government and the CCECC to execute according to plans.
The project was quite outstandingly done that CCECC even provided corporate social responsibility facility to the Papei Community where the Idu Station is located. Rebuilding the community primary school excited the traditional head who in appreciation conferred on Kong a chieftaincy title of Wakilin Ayyuka of Jiwa.
The scope of work in Phase I included earthworks on a space of 8,420,000㎡, construction of 13 railway bridges, 50 culverts, eight flyovers, two frame bridges, a boiling stock depot, 21 buildings of 70,021㎡ in total land space, 112 stations of 23,532㎡of building area.
Mr. Kong who also facilitated a tour of the facilities explained that the project that has taken his 10 years of supervision to bring it this far has been of great impact to the city transportation system and the economy of Abuja.
“As the first light rail in West Africa, the ARMT project strengthened the traditional friendly bilateral ties between China and Nigeria, embodies the support from China in Nigeria’s railway development with both technology and fund, and targets to boost the growth of the two countries’ economy and trade”, he coached.
Three-dimensional traffic network
From the Idu station hub to the west, the project links the airport station at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport and east to the Abuja Metro Station at the Abuja Transportation Centre downtown.
The Idu station, the convergence of the lines links the three arms – to the airport, city downtown and the Kubwa station. It extends on the Kubwa station arm to Kaduna terminating at the Rigasa Station.
Arriving at Rigasa, the station Chief Marketing Officer, Mr. Abdulazeez told ACE that the point is the terminus for now, with future plan to extend it through the next Kaduna station at Rigacikun down to Kano.
At Rigacikun, the station still in the works, the railway line would link to the Lagos-Kano line. From there, train or passengers would easily head south towards Lagos or towards the north to Kano, Katsina and beyond into Niger Republic.
Abdulazeez who excitedly spoke on the project expressed joy at the positive impact the train option to travel between the two cities provides. He said it has been a great improvement and relaxing the security pressure on the passengers who save time, and would help keep the roads longer in good state.
A passenger on the train from Abuja to Kaduna, Ada Comfort Agbo who said she had in the past travelled between the two cities said she felt like dreaming having such relaxed trip by train in a little more than two hours.
“The train is quite comfortable, fast, relaxed, safer, affordable at N2,600 and convenient. Imagine me travelling to Kaduna without any stress at all in an air-conditioned train coach, no traffic pressure or delays; no security alarm and suspense of one not sure she would arrive alive with the menace of incessant kidnaps and robberies. This project is dream come true. I commend the government for the funding and appreciate the CCECC that did the work. These are some of the things Nigerians expect to make lives safer and better.”
Another passenger, Jonah Malik who travelled with his family of four made similar positive comments and said if he were to travel by road, he would not have had the courage to go with his entire family. “We passed through nightmare travelling between the two cities. But now, it is a different story and as we thank the Nigerian government, we also appreciate the CCECC that executed the project.”
ACE asked the Rigasa Station CMO why payments for the train trip must be in cash instead of modern options of online booking, check-in or an electronic pay point. At the Idu station, there is not even an ATM machine for cash access.
Also, there were no services on board as it obtains in most countries’ railway services where snacks and other basics are sold on board.
Abdulzaeez assured that the online pay platforms are about to take-off and the responsibility of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, but clarified that on-board services were there but suspended due to the Covid-19 scare.
Airport-city centre extension
Lot 3 of the project covers a total length of 27.245km. With eight stations, Lot 3 mainly serves passengers from the airport to the city centre, and those transferred from Lot 1A to the airport or to the city centre. The Idu Station is designed as an interchange station where passengers can transfer between Lot 3 and Lot 1A, or between the Abuja light railway and the national railway grid which is the Abuja-Kaduna trunk.
Lot 1A of 18km starts from the Idu station and terminates at the Gbazango Station in Kubwa. With four stations, this line mainly serves passengers between the Idu Industrial Zone and the Kubwa satellite town.
The Abuja rail mass transit project ensures complete connection and integration with the national railway and the newly-built Abuja International Airport terminal. It also embodies the three-dimensional traffic network of the capital city to provide seamless public transport service for passengers from the federal capital city.
The arrangement is to ensure that passengers heading to the airport for their flights can easily ride the train without fear of traffic obstruction and also from the airport to the city centre. In the city of Beijing, some subway lines link the Beijing Capital International Airport to the downtown Guomao station and some other parts of the large city. Moving to or from the airport is far easier through the subway. This Abuja plan is a replication of such transportation advancement.
During our visit to the Abuja airport, the engineer in charge of the project, Mr. Yang Yongtao explained the extent of work done and assured the rest would be delivered in matter of months.
CCECC general manager, Kong, had also narrated that: “The Abuja rail master plan makes provision for a comprehensive railway system to serve primarily as ‘mass mover of people’ between the satellite town and the different areas of the city. Its realization will drastically bring convenience to people, for instance, their travels will be more dependable, more punctual, safer, and cheaper, their living environment will be cleaner, and their lives will be easier and better.”
The project is especially critical given the current and anticipated development of new satellite towns and the need to ensure accessibility and integration of economic activities between the satellite towns and the metropolis. Commerce in the local markets, tax, ticket revenue and land added-value along the rail line have created hundreds of millions of dollars in GDP of the capital city and contributed to the growth of the capital’s economy.
It is quite interesting that the United States Institute for Peace (usip.org) aligned with the benefits of the CCECC railway projects to the wider Nigerian economy and published in 2018 that:
“The Economic Benefits of Railway Investment and development has been featured in China’s wider Belt and Road Initiative across Eurasia and East Africa. In Eurasia, as in Africa, Beijing emphasizes the contribution of the BRI to peace by promoting development and prosperity. Based on author’s interviews with Nigerian Rail Commission, Department of Transport, and CCECC economic connectivity, railways are integral part of this formula. The intrinsic advantages of railways over road networks lie in their economies of scale: railways need less frequent maintenance and have higher speed and efficiency over long-distance routes, making them a highly advantageous low-cost option for freight traffic and offering huge potential for trade promotion. Connecting Nigeria’s underdeveloped but resource-rich inland regions with richer coastal consumer markets and port cities would have obvious benefits. Reducing inland transport costs – a huge problem for agriculture and manufacturing industries – would improve the competitiveness of Nigerian firms against foreign imports and potentially promote the export and trade of Nigerian goods. New railway hubs could also help attract investment and migration to previously underdeveloped areas. Railway development also has positive spillover effects for complementary industries in upstream manufacturing supply chains, such as steel and construction materials, and generates demand for retail and services, all of which promote employment. A central trunk corridor would open up agricultural and mining industries in the middle-belt and plateau states. Likewise, the development of the western Lagos-Kano corridor would benefit northern cattle and leather industries, which are currently disadvantaged against cheap imports given the costs of transport. At a societal level, low-cost transport also promotes easier mobility and migration between regions, where existing road networks are poorly maintained, congested, and often unsafe. The impact of this social mobility can also contribute to social integration between regions and linguistic and ethnic groups. Before their decline, their extractive goal aside, the colonial railways helped connect rural communities to coastal hubs and encouraged rural-urban migration. New railways would foster similar mobility, encourage greater cultural and economic integration, and allow safe and affordable transport for migrants seeking employment and economic opportunities.
These benefits are already visible in the completed Abuja-Kaduna line, where demand from commuters has been strong, not only for its efficiency but also for its additional security benefits relative to travel by road.
Current projects have already generated employment – contrary to popular beliefs of Chinese firms importing their own labor, CCECC’s localization strategy mandates a ten-to-one ratio of local to Chinese workers. The company estimates that the construction of the Abuja-Kaduna line itself created four thousand local jobs, and currently approximately 500 Nigerians are employed in operating the line. Even so, lack of local engineering capacity necessitates continued Chinese management in management and maintenance. The company has been proactive in running training initiatives and technology transfer centers for local engineers, including courses on railway maintenance, signals, and communications systems; staff at the Department of Transport also traveled to China for training on railway network management. However, technology and skills transfer necessitates a long-term systematic investment.”
Even among Nigerians, the popularity pf the CCECC railway projects remain strong. In March 2019, the Nigerian Senate voted in favour of a motion to direct the NRC increase coaches and number of trips of the Abuja-Kaduna train service, amid increasing traffic on the first China-assisted project.
They cited the urgent need for the increase as widely reported in the nation’s media to ameliorate the plight of passengers who have resorted to traveling by rail out of fear of kidnap, robbery and other crimes common on the route by road.
Underscoring further the huge economic impact of the railway system, the Transportation Minister, Hon. Chibuike Amaechi said the government lost about N766 million within four months of suspension of Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) services due to the COVID-19 lockdown. One of the major lines in the service is the Abuja-Kaduna line.
A Nigerian newspaper reported that the Abuja-Kaduna corridor at the beginning of operations generated N6,890,000 daily at the capacity of 5,300 passengers with an average fare of N1,300 for economy class. It neted a revenue of N41,340,000 weekly and N165,360,000 monthly.
Apart from five trips operated on daily basis, the route usually runs four trips on Wednesdays with an average of 2,650 passengers, which equates to N3,445,000 at N1,300 per fare. That was however before the fare increase which also means revenue increase as the present fare is N2,600 for the economy class.
Technology transfer and capacity enhancement
The Chinese contractor emphasizes more on technology transfer, employment and training. As the Chinese proverb goes “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. At the peak of construction, nearly 4,000 employments were provided for the local citizens and nearly 2,000 employments will be provided at the peak of operation. CCECC does employ a lot of local citizens and also share construction experience and techniques with them. Consequently, the local railway construction and operating personnel are trained to make Nigeria gradually achieve technological know-how in rail transportation.
A month prior to the commencement of operations, CCECC hosted a training facilitated by the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) that trained Nigerians in the management and operations of the railway system, Kong revealed. As operations commenced, the Chinese expatriates worked alongside Nigerians and after they mastered the process, have taken over that the trains are all driven by Nigerians, not excluding other technical duties like repairs.
- First complete and operational standard gauge railway in Nigeria
- Provided more than 5,000 employment opportunities during the construction period.
- Provides over 2,000 regular jobs for Nigerians during operation phase
- Regular, comfortable train service, 26,000 passengers a month.
- Freight service
- A boom in the regional economy and business activities
- Prosperity of railway in the future.
Stretched to limit
CCECC presentation at the 2018 June summit said: “Data from the traffic monitoring unit noted that the road transport capacity of the Abuja metropolis of 250 square kilometers and the entire FCT of 8,000 square kilometers has reached its limit. Road, Abuja’s major transport system, can hardly meet the increasing public demand. Then, there were 130,000 commuting vehicles running in and out of the city daily, approaching the capacity limits of both the road and this region. Therefore, establishing an integrated and efficient transport system is top agenda to solve the traffic problem. With that figure, in 2020, the commuting vehicles volume would be inching towards 180,000, and the suggested solution was the urgent provision of the integrated transportation system.
“As the national capital, Abuja is also Nigeria’s second largest air harbour, highway node city and the hub for future standard-gauge railways. With its growing economy in recent years, Abuja has witnessed a scenario of increasing economic and trade cooperation, technical, personnel exchanges and logistics leading to the aggregation of population and industries.
The inconvenient traffic has been the bottleneck, restricting the economic and social development of Abuja and adversely affecting the investment environment, economy and trade,” CCECC alerted.
CCECC best for the job
To actualize the integrated and efficient transport system, it was not by chance that the CCECC was chosen for the job for some very peculiar considerations.
One of them is that the company had operated in Nigeria for about 26 years then, since its entry into the country’s construction market in 1981, and had over the years delivered prominent infrastructure and full industrial chain services for local communities in 28 of the 36 states.
The other consideration is because, China the native place of CCECC is reputed with the best proven railway technology in the world and also the largest railway system where the high speed rail (HSR) total coverage since 2007 exceeded 36,000km in August 2020, some 66 percent of world total and targeting 70,000km reach in 2035.
CCECC performs international contracting and economic cooperation with operations in over 40 countries and regions and overseas offices in 20 countries. Its excellent performance had kept it consistently listed among world’s top 255 global contractors for years and also in the first 70 international engineering contracting firms in recent years.
It boasted that: “As a responsible contractor, taking into account of Abuja’s role, its development plan, and industry layout, CCECC innovatively came up with the scientific concept of building an integrated and efficient transport system to meet the urbanization needs of Abuja and satisfy people’s growing demand for modern traffic, aiming at building a multi-dimensional and interconnected transport system of ‘trunk railway + urban light rail + air traffic + city bus’ to integrate land and air transport. The concept features interconnectivity and efficiency, making Abuja a hub and gateway link to other parts of Nigeria, West Africa and even the world.”
The newly-built south-north longitudinal Abuja-Kaduna Railway by CCECC, standard gauge is already easing the pressure on roads and air. The original railway plan of Abuja aims at a national railway hub linking the east, west, south, and north to the major surrounding cities and states.
Abuja international airport and traffic flow
Abuja International Airport, one of the five largest in Nigeria, has one airport terminal with the runway of 3.609km long and 60m wide.
With the economic development of Nigeria, it has witnessed growing tourism and surge of economic and trade activities, technical and people exchanges. Air transport is becoming a prime choice of all transport means. Passengers and cargoes both internationally and domestically have tremendously increased year by year with more and more flights landing and taking-off.
One month after Nigeria reopened its air space for international flights, between September 5 and October 5, the Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika said Nigeria handled 27,000 international passengers. These are mainly Abuja and Lagos airports that started operation, and giving the new Abuja airport some 45% of this passenger volume.
To further buttress the benefits of the projects, the General Manager, Corporate Affairs of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Mrs. Henrietta Yakubu confirmed to us that: “Since last year the Abuja international airport was commissioned by President Buhari, it has been contributing immensely to the Nigerian economy. Aside from the income being generated from the airport, the new airport has also created opportunities for lots of employments directly and indirectly.
Also, the airport has aided the attraction of foreign direct investments into Nigeria, while also contributing to the nation’s gross domestic product.”
The three projects CCECC is handling in the actualization of the integrated Abuja transport system rightly include the airport.
The arms of the system interconnect with each other with the intention ofeffectively improving the urban traffic conditions and promoting development.
The transfer center at the new International Airport Station of the Abuja RMT is a traffic hub for the rail mass transit, existing terminal and the new terminal, connecting the roads, railway lines and flights with each other. Passengers can arrive at the airport station through the RMT from various stations in the city. It only takes them 5 minutes to go to the airport ticket and departure hall via the transfer center on the same platform.
Idu railway station
The Idu Station of the RMT is located at the Idu Industrial Park. This station functions as the transfer center between the city rail mass transit, the airport rail link and the Abuja-Kaduna railway to attain seamless connection. In the future, the railway line will reach far north to Kano and far south to Lagos Port. Through the connection of the rail mass transit, the Abuja International Airport, Lagos Port, Lagos-Kano Railway, inbound and outbound freight and passengers will be efficiently transported by the envisaged integrated transport system linking port, land and air.
Serving as a comprehensive transfer station, the metro station of the rail mass transit is adjacent to the urban bus stop.
Other key stations of the rail mass transit are located at the intersection of the planned urban roads in Abuja to achieve the interconnection of the future urban rail transit lines with the public roads.
Abuja-Kaduna railway project
As the first implemented section of the Nigerian Railway Modernization Project, its contract value is $1.057 billion with a length of 186km. CCECC undertook the survey and design, construction, procurement, operation support and maintenance. Work officially commenced on February 20, 2011, and put into commercial operation since July 13, 2016.
Its construction and operation created approximately 10,000 local jobs. It had safely operated for 651 days as at June 2018, with an accumulated traffic of 700,000 passengers, average monthly passenger flow of 56,000, and 99% on-time rate. The ticket is hard to get. But before the Covid-19 pandemic the passenger traffic had climbed to a daily average of 3,700 or 111,000 in a month, from NRC sources.
Each train coach has 90 seats, and a train has average of 10 cars or total of 900 passengers per trip. In the Covid-19 period when ACE had a ride, the sitting is spaced out in line with physical distancing and therefore, not running at full passenger compliments. As normalcy returns soon and capacity comes to full, the rail system would convey some 1,332,000 passengers a year. With their safety all assured and travel time cut shorter, which are difficult to quantify in monetary numbers. The value the rail adds to the nation’s economy stretches.
Abuja rail mass transit project
It is the first urban rail project officially launched in West Africa. The total length is 45 kilometers and the contract value is $823 million. CCECC undertook the survey, design, construction, procurement, operation training, etc. The commencement ceremony was held on May 28, 2009. The first phase of the project was taken over on December 15, 2017. CCECC has secured a contract of offering 41 months of operation and management services.
Abuja airport terminal
ACE visited the Nnamdi Azikiwe airport expansion work that is about to be competed. We spoke with Mr. Yang, Project Manager of the airport who took us round the new project that had already come into use for international flights and to some extent also for the domestic operations.
On December 20, 2018 when President Buhari commissioned the project, he said: “With the commissioning of this Terminal Nigeria is moving towards achieving and meeting global aviation standards in facilitation, passenger processing and service delivery in tandem with international best practice.”
But Yang clarified that though the terminal is fully in use, some finishing touches are still on at the periphery, including the coming into use of the train station that links the terminal to the city. During the visit, work was still on for the finishing touches which he assured must have been all done by the first quarter of next year.
CCECC said: “The Abuja Airport Terminal is one of the six it implemented. As the current largest single complex building in Nigeria, its contract value is $200 million with total building floor area of 58,788m2 and 8 aircraft stands, meeting an annual passenger throughput of 4.5 million persons, attaining a peak passenger flow of 1,893 persons per hour and 14 landing and taking-off aircrafts at peak hour. In the near future, Nigeria will be proudly having a dual-hub aviation network composed of Abuja and Lagos International airports.”
The management of the company informed ACE that all the projects targeted at the integrated Abuja mass transit are executed at the best world class standards to serve optimal use and attain durability.
“We use these prime projects to make a statement that would continue as tradition in all our projects in the railway and other sectors.
CCECC, citizen of Nigeria
The fulcrum of the CCECC culture in projects execution is the adaptation of technology for the future,” said the Managing Director, Mr. Michael Jiang, in a document he gave ACE.
Seeing herself as a citizen and part of Nigeria after many years of partnership here, Mr. Jiang said “CCECC is not in Nigeria to play business and go. We are here to lay a foundation for stronger and better friendship between Nigeria and China. We are here to make a statement of the uniqueness of our quality and depth of expertise. We are here also to build the base for Nigeria’s technology growth in civil engineering and all our areas of operation. Therefore, we take Nigerian experts along. We don’t leave them behind while we operate.
We have been sourcing our raw materials mainly from Nigeria, reason we have our steel fabrication plant within the Idu yard where we make the steel components of our requirements. We have another factory where we produce the rail track sleepers and other materials. We source the concrete from the quarries of Abuja and this is a large percentage of our raw materials pool.
Moreover, as the Chinese experts service and maintain the trains, they do that side by side the Nigerian counterparts with the deliberate intention that they take over the core of the projects some day and do that with Chinese experts.
In China, the policy that introduced the HSR started in 2004 when China invited experts from Germany, France and Japan to contribute technology and expertise. China worked with them diligently and mastered the technology. Before long, China grew the world’s best, most advanced and largest HSR railway network. That is what we plan to replicate in Nigeria so that Nigerians would become adept in engineering to build their own railway system.”
China today hosts 66% of world high speed rail volume and also helping as global experts at the International Railway Union to develop some other countries.
The Qinghai-Tibet railway line that is the most technologically tasking in the world is another Chinese railway technology marvel. It has a peculiarity of running at the world’s highest altitude and over largest and longest ice surface.
Still on the benefits and impacts of the CCECC, Mr. Vincent Liu, General Manager, Corporate Culture office, reminded that: “On April 12, 2018, CCECC held a job fair for fresh Nigerian graduates that eventually led to their employment in the company, and some six months later, the company sent about 67 of such young graduates to China to study railway engineering as part of the process of deepening their relationship with Nigeria. That’s a clear sign that CCECC is not a predator but a builder and part of the Nigerian quest for the deepening of technology, industrialisation and true friendship.
“In all our projects across Nigeria, we have about 20,000 Nigerian workers as reported by the Chinese news agency, Xinhua Abuja office in 2018.
Even at the last week of September 2020, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Abuja expressed appreciation to CCECC for facilitating the establishment and operation of Railway Engineering department in the institution.
On record also, we set up the Kajola factory in Ogun State where train cars are produced locally with local raw materials and also grooming Nigerian experts in the field.”