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Photos on social media don’t show Russian engineers building a skyscraper and a railway in Nigeria’s Aba town

IN SHORT: The Nigerian town of Aba has been in the news for the inauguration of a power plant, but photos of a skyscraper and railway supposedly being built in the town are from Russia.

The town of Aba in Nigeria’s southern state of Abia has been in the news following the inauguration of a 188-megawatt plant.

Developed by Geometric Power Plant, the US$800 million plant is expected to supply electricity to the town and surrounding areas without relying on the national grid.

Some public figures have praised the project, which has been 20 years in the making, and talked about how it will benefit the town’s commercial activities.

Aba is known for producing fashion items like clothes, shoes and bags.

Capitalising on Aba’s moment in the national spotlight, four photos were posted on Facebook, with the claim they show Russian engineers starting work on the town’s tallest skyscraper and high-speed railway.

The first photo shows heavy construction machinery with a crane, the second is of a building under construction, the third shows men at work and the fourth is of Alex Otti, the governor of Abia state.

The post reads: “In a major development for the city of Aba, Russian engineers have arrived to kickstart the ambitious project of building the tallest skyscraper and a state-of-the-art speedlight railway system.”

Other Facebook users echoed the claim here, here, here, here and here. The posts link to an article published on the blog Igbo Times Magazine with the headline Just In: Russian Engineers Begin Construction of Tallest Skyscraper and Speedlight Railway in Aba.

But do these photos show more infrastructure projects in the state? We checked.


Photos not from construction in Aba

A Google reverse image search of the first photo led us to the website of a Russian company called IRD Engineering. Here the photo was described as being from the “Start-up Complex No. 4 of the Central Ring Road (CRR)” construction project in Moscow, Russia.

Searching for the second photo led us to a larger version of it on Shutterstock, an American stock photo provider. It was taken in January 2012 at the construction site of a hockey arena in Togliatti in the Samara region of Russia.

We found the third photo here and here on two different construction websites in Russia. 

These photos do not show the construction of a skyscraper or a railway in Aba or anywhere else in Nigeria. 

We found no media reports of a skyscraper or railway under construction in Aba. 

Given the national attention that the power plant has brought to the town, such construction activities would have been widely reported if they were true.

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