Nigeria has started a commuter train service linking its administrative capital, Abuja to major hub, Kaduna in a move expected to open up areas along the route. As Sonia Legg reports, Africa's most populous nation is working to expand its infrastructure, including transport and power, to help diversify its economy and alleviate poverty.
A quick and quiet commute is a rare thing in Nigeria. These passengers are making the most of it. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PASSENGER, BIMPE OMOTOSHO, SAYING: "We are having a really nice ride, it's so comfortable there is really no shock you know it's really smooth. We are enjoying ourselves and the AC is good, we even have movie." They're on a new train service between the capital Abuja and the northern city of Kaduna. Built by the China Railway Construction Corporation, the track runs for more than 186 kilometres, and serves both passenger and cargo trains. At 500 million U.S. dollars to build, it's not been cheap. But the government says it will pay off. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NIGERIA'S TRANSPORT MINISTER, ROTIMI AMAECHI, SAYING: "It impacts on agriculture and the economy as agricultural produce is conveyed from Kaduna to Abuja at more cheaper rates. Transportation is also provided for majority of Nigerians who live between Kano and Abuja at a cheaper rate." A number of rail projects like this, are underway across the country. In an attempt to inject life into an economy facing recession. And diversify Nigeria's economy from one almost SOLELY reliant on oil. Since prices took a dive, it's been hit hard. Its oil-rich Niger Delta region also suffering attacks by militants, reducing its production by a third. Jobs created by building services like this, are hoped to give everyone an easier ride.