The 27-kilometre Lagos Blue Line rail system designed to run on the Mile 2-Orile-Marina corridor will be powered by an 18 megawatts independent power plant, a source in Lagos State government has said.
The source told BusinessDay that the state government is opting for an independent power source to run Nigeria’s first sub-national intra-city rail system so as to guarantee its efficiency and reliability. According to our source, the power plant, being sited around the National Theatre, Iganmu, will provide a 24-hour electricity for the smooth operation of the rail system that is expected to start commercial operations in June 2023.
Although President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the rail system in January, full commercial service to the general public is yet to commence. This is planned to begin in June after the completion of the power plant, the source said.
BusinessDay gathered that besides the independent power plant, the state government has also been talking with the Eko Electricity Distribution Company for a back-up power source.
“There will be three-level power sources: the independent power plant, Eko Distribution and an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that comes with each of the cars,” the government source said.
“Each car is designed with a battery and UPS that takes over automatically. This will ensure an uninterrupted service to Lagosians when full commercial operations begin.”
President Buhari inaugurated the first phase – 13km (Marina to Mile 2) of the 27km (Marina-Okomaiko) Blue Line rail system on January 24, 2023. The Blue Line is one of the six light rails under the Lagos Rail Mass Transportation System designed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority.
However, since the commissioning, the rail is yet to open to the general public as the state government is still working to perfect the system. It is projected to lift at least 250,000 daily and significantly reduce travel time on the Mile 2-Marina corridor.
With an estimated population of 24 million population in 2023, based on the latest revision of the United Nations World Urbanisation Prospects, analysts believe that Lagos had recorded enormous losses in the last 38 years owing to the lack of rail mass transit system, a common feature in other mega cities like Johannesburg in South Africa and Cairo in Egypt.
According to a recent report by Danne Institute for Research, a Lagos-based research institution, the state loses about N4 trillion annually as a result of traffic congestion. The amount, the report added, is derived from the culmination of estimated 14.12 million hours lost by Lagosians in commuting to work daily.
The report, titled ‘Connectivity and Productivity Report’, said the amount was derived from the culmination of estimated 14.12 million hours lost by Lagosians while commuting to work every day.
Franca Ovadje, founder/executive director at Danne Institute for Research, during a presentation of the report in 2021, lamented that the growth of Lagos had not resulted in increased productivity due to the challenge of connectivity.
“We found that the cost to individuals of traffic congestion is N133,978.68 per annum for those who own their vehicles and N79,039.40 each year for those who use public transport. The total loss to Lagos is estimated at 14.12 million hours per day or N3,834,340,158,870 per annum,” Ovadje said.
Muda Yusuf, a former director-general of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said in an interview with BusinesDay in 2020 that Lagos was bleeding from poor productivity and low turnaround time as a result of traffic congestion.
“Having tonnes of buses won’t solve any problem if they end up stuck in traffic,” he said. “There is no city as big as Lagos that doesn’t have a functional intra-city rail system. If you are talking about mass transit, the most effective means is rail. It helps productivity. And you know mobility has a way of increasing output because the speed of transactions is much higher. You need effective transport systems to facilitate those things so that they can contribute to growth.”
An average worker in Lagos spends the equivalent of 75 percent of a week’s total working hours commuting, according to a research finding by JCDecaux Grace Lake Nigeria.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, at the inauguration in January, described the Blue Line Rail as a milestone in the development of the Lagos rail mass transit and a culmination of several impactful reforms in the state’s transport ecosystem, starting from 1999 when Bola Tinubu came in as governor.