When the creators of Nigeria’s capital Abuja envisioned the city in the late 1970s, they imagined it would be the hub of rail transportation, connecting all the other parts of the country. Over four decades later, that vision remains unrealised.
Hope was rekindled in May 2007 when the capital territory authorities awarded the Abuja Rail Mass Transit project to CCECC Nigeria Limited. The project cost $824m, with loans from the Exim Bank of China used to fund about 60% of the project. It is even more essential now that the city’s population has grown beyond what the original master plan anticipated, with traffic building up frequently on many routes. An intra-city rail system would ease transportation.
In July 2018, President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the project’s first of six phases, which connects the airport to the Central Business District, but not long after, the trains went cold and the tracks became silent.
Having fallen into disuse, it was easy for different components of the facility, including cables along the track, nuts, and air conditioners, to be vandalised and looted.