Relief finally beckons for patient residents of Lagos, as the long-awaited Blue Line rail being constructed by the Lagos State government, is set to begin commercial operations in the first week of September 2023, a source close to the government, told BusinessDay on Tuesday.
The commence date for the rail line has been shifted several times. Lagosians have been eager to see the commercial flag off of the rail line, especially as they grapple with high transportation fares occasioned by the recent removal of subsidy on petrol, which shot the pump price to N600 and above per litre.
The rail line was started by the former administration of Babatunde Fashola more than 12 years ago. But the first phase – 13km (Marina to Mile 2) on the Lagos-Badagry corridor is being completed by the Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration.
Nigeria’s ex-President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the first phase of the 27km (Marina-Okomaiko) Blue Line rail on January 24, 2023. Since then, the state government has been carrying out a test run of the system, leaving the residents of the state to ask questions as to what informed an inauguration of a project that was ready at the time.
“I can tell you the Blue Line rail is set to run from September,” our source said on Tuesday. Although our source couldn’t confirm the exact date for the flag-off, it, however, informed that an official communication to this effect would be made by the government any moment this week or next.
The rail system is projected to lift at least 250,000 daily and will significantly reduce travel time on the Mile 2-Marina corridor.
In May this year, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu told BusinessDay that the rail line would begin commercial operations in June as the state government was perfecting arrangement for an 18-megawatt independent power source to run it.
Abimbola Akinajo, managing director, of Lagos Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA), had also informed BusinessDay in July that the delay in the commencement of commercial operations was due to electrical fittings being perfected on the rail line, and projected last week of August 2023 for the flag off.
“We’re currently ensuring that electrical systems are in order. The rail line has moved about 150,000 people so far, but commercial flag off of operations will be in the last week of August,” Akinajo, whose agency supervises the operations of the Blue Line rail, said.
She was corroborated by Gboyega Akosile, the chief press secretary to Governor Sanwo-Olu, who said in a telephone chat with BusinessDay that “the Blue Line rail is ready; what is being done now is tidying up the loose ends. We’re not happy it has taken this long.”
BusinessDay gathered that besides the independent power plant, the state government has also talked the Eko Electricity Distribution Company into providing a backup 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,” a government source said.
“Each car is designed with a battery and UPS that takes over automatically. This will ensure uninterrupted service to Lagosians when full commercial operations begin,” the source added.
The Blue Line project is a 27-kilometre rail route designed to run from Okokomaiko eastwards to Mile 2 and then proceed to Marina via Ijora.
Five stations have been completed, with 13km of the rail tracks laid in the first phase. Phase one of the Blue Line has five stations at Marina, National Theatre, Orile-Iganmu, Suru-Alaba, and Mile 2, while Phase 2 will extend the line to 27km, terminating at Okokomaiko in the Ojo area of the state.
The first phase will transport 250,000 passengers daily and, when completed, the entire 27km will lift about 500,000 passengers daily.