Recently, the Lagos State government flagged off the construction of a new rail project that will run from Agbado, a sub-urban settlement, to Marina on the island.
The 37-km Rail Mass Transit Red Line is expected to move more than one million commuters daily which is a huge plus for the state’s challenged transport system and a good step towards achieving an efficient intermodal transportation in the state.
The project which the state sees as another initiative that will deliver enduring infrastructure for the transport system and make Lagos a competitive megacity, is also expected to reduce travel time for commuters from about two and a half hours to just 35 minutes.
Gboyega Akosile, the chief press secretary to Governor Babjide Sanwo-Olu, in a recent statement explained that the rail line would be constructed in three phases with the first phase running from Agbado to Iddo.
“This will be completed in 24 months and will be sharing track with the Federal Government’s Lagos-Ibadan Railway Modernisation Project up to Ebute – Metta. It will have its dedicated track from Ebute – Metta to Oyingbo; the passenger capacity of the first phase is 500,000 daily,” Akosile added.
But to the state’s housing sector, the project is coming as mercy-killing. About 263 properties are affected by the rail project. This means that many families will go without homes for sometime as the construction work commences.
The good news, however, is that, according to Akosile, cheques of varying amounts of money have been given out as compensation to 25 residents whose properties, businesses, and accommodation will be affected by the project. “Over 263 properties are affected. Many of the property owners and tenants were smiling as they got their cheques,” the CPS noted.
However, experts say that one way or another, the loss of 263 properties will add to the residents’ housing woes. “What would you expect in a state whose housing deficit is estimated at three million. The state has the most active rental market where rents are second to none in the country,” Johnson Chukwuma, a structural engineer said.
According to him, in the short term, there will be pressure on other locations where these displaced residents would seek accommodation before they are able to build or buy their own homes with the money government has given to them.
“And, in a state where infrastructure is a big challenge, this is going to affect not just people, but also places,” Johnson added.
But the state government assures that the pains will not last long, disclosing that the implementation of the Red Line was being supported by the Differentiated Cash Reserve Requirement programme – a financing package put in place by the state government through the Central Bank Nigeria.
Furthermore, the governor disclosed that the state government would be constructing ancillary infrastructure, including six overpasses at strategic level crossing points along the rail corridor to eliminate interactions between the rail system, vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
“The unique characteristics of the Red Line is its integration with the Ikeja Bus Terminal, Oshodi–Abule Egba Bus Rapid Transit lane, the future Orange Line, which goes from Ikeja to Agbowa, and the General Aviation Terminal One of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport through a skywalk,” the governor said.
Continuing, he said, “another unique feature of the Red Line is that all the stations have elevated concourses with either at grade island or side platforms for easy boarding and alighting of passengers.”