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Blue rail: Major hurdle overcome as track crosses lagoon to Marina

 …LASG hopeful of full operation 2021

The integrated mass transportation initiative being pursued by the Lagos State government is seen making some progress, as the contractor handling the Blue Line rail system has successfully taken the elevated track across the lagoon from Iganmu to reach Marina, on the Lagos Island.

This has bolstered the confidence of the state government, with governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu now saying that the rail system will begin full commercial operation in 2021.

Two of Sanwo-Olu’s predecessors in office: Babatunde Fashola, who initiated the project, and Akinwunmi Ambode, had made promises to flag off commercial operation of the rail system at different dates, but failed to deliver on such promises.

Lagosians are eager to see the 27-km blue line rail, which construction began in 2009 at the initial cost of $1.2 billion, commence operation, as it would bring relief to millions of residents in a city traumatised by daily road traffic congestion, especially the Orile Iganmu-Mile 2 corridor.

Sanwo-Olu, who led members of his cabinet to inspect the five-kilometre long rail track bridge crossing from Iganmu to Marina, said the completion of the bridge marked the commencement of construction activities on the final phase of the rail project. The government is hoping to test-run the rail in December 2020 and flag of operation in 2021.

“The completion of this project is top priority for our administration, as it is critical to the achievement of our prioritised pillar of traffic management and transportation in our six-point development agenda, known as project THEMES.

“The aim is basically to reduce travel time through an effective and efficient intermodal transport system. It is also key to the building of a 21st-century economy, which is central to the vision of a Greater Lagos aspiration. We are committed to delivering this project next year and ensuring its operation starts in 2021,” said Sanwo-Olu on Tuesday.

The blue line rail is being implemented as part of the Lagos State Strategic Transport Master Plan, which was developed by the World Bank-assisted Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), which prescribes six rail lines and one monorail for the long-term strategic goals of the state.

Other lines include Red Line rail project from Agbado to Marina; 68km Green Line; 60km Purple Line, 34km Yellow Line and 48km Orange Line.

Michael Chiang, Managing Director of CCECC, the contractor handling the Blue Line rail, observed that the continuous beam bridge represented the most complex construction work on the project, noting that the engineering firm encountered several geological challenges before completing the sea-crossing section.

“It is a great milestone for the project, which indicates that we have successfully overcome the major difficulties and solved the most complex construction section problems,” he said.

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