• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

Work progresses on Lagos Blue Line rail project

Journey to progress: Celebrating the commissioning of the Blue Line rail project in Lagos state

Besides the promise by the state government that its two rail lines—Blue and Red—will be completed and put to use by the last quarter of 2022 or the first quarter of 2023, work is seen progressing on the projects.

When this reporter visited the Mile 2 mega Train Station for the rail system, he observed that work was really upbeat on the station. Workers were sighted at the rail shelter which is just a few metres away from the expansive Train Station. It has just been roofed with level of block work done.

For the residents of this axis, the completion of this 27.5 kilometre rail line that will run from Okokomaiko to Marina on Lagos Island would mean a complete change of narrative in their commuting life which is largely on commercial motorcycle popularly called Okada with its huge risk.

The completion and operation of the rail system will also mean limitless opportunities for both the people and the state’s economy. It is expected that more people will take residence in that axis; more businesses will open and all these will require more real estate assets—residential, commercial and industrial.

The Blue Line rail project is one of the oldest construction sites in Lagos, having lasted for 14 years now. The project was started in 2009 by Babatunde Fashola, former governor of the state who, relying on the state’s public transportation master plan designed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), flagged off the construction of the Blue Line rail system at Orile-Iganmu.

Read also: Why the railway system has failed in Nigeria

This raised hope, especially among residents who ply the Okokomaiko-Mile 2, Alaba-Orile- National Arts Theatre- CMS – Marina route. The project has the China Construction and Civil Engineering Company (CCECC) as the contractor and LAMATA as the supervisor.

The rail system is designed to lift 500,000 passengers daily. The first phase will be running from Mile 2 to Marina with a stop-over at Orile-Iganmu and National Arts Theatre in a journey that, according to LAMATA, is faster, safer, reliable, and efficient. The system will be coming with an added advantage of reduced fares compared to the unregulated commercial buses on that route at the moment.

Beyond this, the rail line is conceived to encourage the use of public transportation system with thousands of vehicles to be taken off the road in what will reduce travel time and the present level of carbon emissions in the densely populated commercial city.

“The project has taken off; the baby has been born; it is left for us to nurture it to adulthood. This is going to be the most impactful project this state has ever had.

“You can only imagine the number of people that will be employed, both directly and indirectly, when the project is finished. It will reduce travel time and all the stress associated with traffic will be removed. Lagosians will travel in comfort,” Fashola enthused in 2012, three years into the life of the project.

But, this enthusiasm died almost as soon as Fashola left office and so, for more than a decade after commencement, the project has dragged, diminishing both hope and expectations.

But the good news now is that Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the current governor, has taken up the project, promising to complete and deliver it in 2022, and so has rekindled residents’ hope.