On 7 May 2007, former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo laid the foundation stone for the $US84 million, 280km Abuja Light Rail System (ALRS), designed to carry commuters from satellite towns to the city centre in the capital. The large numbers who work in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) commute as much as 30km due to the high cost of accommodation in the metropolis. The satellite towns include Nyanya, Kubwa, Mararaba and Lugbe. Other areas are Gwagwalada, Nyanya, Maraba, Keffi in Nasarawa State and Suleja in Niger State.
The project, designed by CPCS Transport Nigeria Limited, to be built by China Civil Engineering and Construction Corporation (CCECC), is to be delivered in two different models - Light Rail Transit (LRT) and Rapid Rail Transit (RRT). The construction company was on site in 2009, but says only $148 million, representing 20% of the contract sum - actually less than the initial mobilisation fees - have so far been paid by the government. The target date for completion is 2013.
On 18 August 2010, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a contract for project management services in respect of Lots 1-3 of the light rail transit being constructed at a cost of $841.64 million, ie about $13m per kilometre. Upon completion, Lot 1 is expected to handle approximately 350,000 riders per day; Lot 3 will carry about 60,000.
As there is no functioning steel manufacturing concern in Nigeria, all track has to be imported. Though the federal government is considering taking a loan from the World Bank, the necessary provision has not been made in the 2010 budget.
Pre-stressed concrete sleepers are being cast by CCECC in Abuja's Idu Industrial area. About 80,000 have been produced to date, representing about 30% of the total needed at a rate of 1,760 sleepers per kilometre. Initially diesel power is to be used for train operation, to be converted to electricity when more stable power supply becomes available.