• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Lagosians in anxious wait for redline train take-off

Lagosians in anxious wait for redline train take-off

…As shanty town sprouts along corridor

Penultimate Thursday, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu officially commissioned the Lagos Mass Rail Transit (LMRT) Red Line train project. The project, which is in its first phase, runs from Agbado, a border community separating Ogun and Lagos State, to Oyingbo axis of Lagos mainland.

The teeming population in Lagos is anxiously awaiting its take-off for commercial operations following the launch.

Read also: Lagos rail project validation of democracy, says Tinubu

At full capacity, the first phase of the Red Line is expected to convey about 250,000 passengers daily, which will grow to 750,000 passengers daily by the time the full complement of the rolling stock is in place on the line.

However, the question on the lips of many is when will it take off?

“For the first time in the history of Lagos, we have a system comprising and integrating all three modes of transportation: road, rail and waterways. We started construction of the rail infrastructure mid-2021, and I am happy that our administration has been able to complete the operations,” Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State governor, said at the official inauguration of the project.

According to him, the delivery of the Red Line goes beyond improving mobility across Lagos metropolis; rather it is about reshaping the urban landscape and setting a new pace of development for the state.

Sanwo-Olu further said that the Strategic Transport Master Plan (STMP) of the state outlined six integrated rail lines, one monorail, 14 BRT corridors, over 20 waterway routes, and a vast network of major and inner roads.

Read also: Sanwo-Olu tests redline train, inspects rail facilities ahead commissioning

According to him, connecting critical points across the state will open doors to opportunities, growth, and a sustainable future for Lagos.

“Today, we mark a historic milestone in the annals of Lagos and indeed, our nation, with the commissioning of the Red Line, a 37-km marvel of modern engineering that stretches from Agbado in Ogun State to the iconic National Theatre in Iganmu.

“The segment we are inaugurating today spans an impressive 27-km from Agbado to Oyingbo, featuring state-of-the-art stations at Agbado, Iju, Agege, Ikeja, Oshodi, Mushin, Yaba, and Oyingbo,” he happily said on the day of commissioning.

The Red Line Rail

The Red Line is a seven-station rail line that stretches over a distance of 27 kilometres from Agbado in Ogun State, terminating at the Oyingbo station. Other stations are Iju, Agege, Ikeja, Oshodi, Mushin, and Yaba, respectively.

The first phase of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) project is expected to facilitate 37 trips daily and move more than 500,000 passengers daily. There are also 10 vehicular overpasses and pedestrian bridges which separates the train traffic from vehicular and pedestrian flows.

The Red Line rail utilises Diesel Multiple Unit which employs on-board diesel engines to propel multiple-unit trains, with an estimated $135 million under the Greater Lagos Urban Transportation Project.

The project is managed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), which is domiciled in the state’s Ministry of Transportation.

Read also: President Tinubu commissions Red Line Rail in Lagos, transforming city commute

According to Sanwo-Olu, when fully operational, the Lagos Red Line Mass Transit rail system will convey about 500,000 passengers daily.

“The LRMT Red Line rail system, the first phase of which we project will move more than 500,000 passengers daily, stretches over a distance of 27 kilometres from Agbado to Oyingbo, with eight stations at Agbado, Iju, Agege, Ikeja, Oshodi, Mushin, Yaba, and terminates at Oyingbo,” he said.

Security concerns along the corridor

One week after the state’s ministry of environment destroyed make-shift structures along the corridor, another shanty town has sprouted out.

The unwanted landlords have reconstructed the apartments along the corridor, especially at the Fagba area of the axis between Iju and Agege stations. Ironically, many of the illegal structures were constructed directly behind a Ministry of Agriculture Trailer-Park, new Oko-Oba, which is a state-managed abattoir facility.

Aside from the illegal structures that are finding their way back along the corridor, the stretch of the rail line from Powerline to Agege could be said to be the most notorious portion of the corridor that posed the biggest security threat to the Red Rail line.

Also, the rail track from Agbado to Agege is open to human traffic unlike the Blue Line that is completely cordon off from human traffic. While human traffic along the corridor is heavier between Agbado and the Trailer Park in Fagba, the traffic drops significantly between the Trailer Park and the Agege Railway Police Station; while a noticeable improvement in human traffic is witnessed between the crossing by the Police Station and rail Agege Station.

Similarly, the space behind the trailer park is notorious for the sales and smoking of Indian hemp, as young men and women openly and freely display their wares (Indian hemp) in a willing buyer-willing seller manner, where sex is also on offer as a tangible product.

Read also: Lagos sets for Red Line Rail inauguration Feb 2

A resident of the area who spoke on condition of anonymity, commended the effort of the state government at reducing the stress indigenes and residents go through in the area of transportation, however, advised the government to go a step further by flushing urchins and dangerous elements that have converted the corridor to point of rendezvous.

He wondered why, for instance “dangerous youths” are allowed to loiter and do all manner of things on the track.

According to him, “having a fully grown woman bath naked in the open not minding the presence of passers-by or men around, speaks to our collective humanity as a people. These are some of the sights that should not be part of a megacity like Lagos.”

Sustaining the Lagos dreams and hope

Decades after the conceptualisation of the rail line for mass transportation by the Lagos State government, President Tinubu, a former governor of the state, was on ground in Lagos for the official inauguration of the Red Line, while the Blue Line was inaugurated by former president Muhammadu Buhari in February 2023.

For many Lagosians, bringing the project to live from conception to commercial operation is a dream come through. It is also a credit to the collective hope, aspiration, and continuity of the progressives, as the Lagos landlord would like to be called.

Hence, it was not surprising that President Tinubu shared the similar sentiment when he inaugurated the Red Line saying: “Today, we are gathered for the inauguration of the second of the six rail lines planned in our strategic transportation master plan. I commend the Lagos State Government under the leadership of Babajide Sanwo-Olu for this giant stride. He was part of this vision some 20 years ago, running around the world to look at working systems and come up with ideas to replicate here.”

According to the President, history would be kind to everybody involved in the infrastructural transformation of Lagos, and urged the state’s leadership to persevere the ideas in the face of opposition, while staying focused on the goals of making Lagos a megacity.

Read also: NRC to begin Kano-Lagos express train services soon

“I am delighted that we are inaugurating the first phase of the Red Line. Today, is a day to be remembered for the infrastructural progress of our country, particularly Lagos. LAMATA has demonstrated that agency can work for people if it is guided by a vision and commitment to noble values. Much work still needs to be done in fostering strong working partnership between federal government and state governments.

“We thank Lagosians and our political leaders in the state for believing in us. We said we can do it, you believed in us. We said we would be focused on the people, you believed in us. We said our efforts would end up in making people’s lives better, you believed in us. The progress of Lagos over the last 24 years is a constant reminder that true change is possible.”

It must be noted that the Blue Line, which has since commenced operation, has taken off some burdens from many commuters who have continued to patronize it.

One of the commuters who have made a habit of using the train, from Mile 2 to CMS, said: “I have been using the train since it was commissioned and I enjoy it a lot; no stress. You have no business with hold up. Whenever I commute, I see a long stretch of traffic snarl, and I say to myself, see what I would have been going through if not the train.

“I am very sure that many Lagosians are eagerly awaiting the day the Red Line train will become operational. Kudos to the Lagos State government for the pro-people vision.”