After many years in the works, the Lagos State government, on Thursday, finally flagged off the construction of the red line rail mass transit system.
The 37km rail line will run from Agbado to Marina, moving more than one million commuters daily. And if the word of the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu is anything to go by, the rail line should become operational in 2022.
The corridor will be constructed in three phases. The first phase (Agbado-Iddo), which will be completed in 24 months, 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 and reduce travel time from about two and a half hours to just 35 minutes. The passenger capacity of the first phase is 500,000 daily.
At the flag off ceremony held at its proposed Ikeja train station, the state government assured it would be fully operational in the last quarter of 2022.
The project being driven by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), will have eight train stations – from Agbado to Oyingbo.
The red line is expected to raise mass transportation capacity in the state, complementing the blue line that traverses from Okokomaiko to Marina, which is at 78 percent completion.
Sanwo-Olu, who was at the event with his deputy governor, Obafemi Hamzat, handed cheques to property owners affected by the right-of-way, described the project as another initiative of his administration to deliver enduring infrastructure for the transport system and make Lagos a competitive megacity.
He said the traffic management and transportation pillar in his government’s development blueprint – Project THEMES – was being implemented with the goal to develop an efficient and sustainable transportation model that would improve mobility, promote economic growth and enhance the living conditions of residents.
He said: “Today’s flag-off of the construction of infrastructure for the standard gauge red line is another promise kept and it demonstrates, in practical terms, our commitment to achieve the objectives of traffic management and transportation pillar in our development agenda. This is because we recognise the role which an efficient transportation system plays in enhancing people’s quality of life and as a major driver of socio-economic development.
“The state’s strategic transport master plan, which encompasses a number of projects that are germane to achieving our vision for a greater Lagos, is founded on imperatives that seek to increase transport choices for all users and make the transit system integrated, attractive, convenient, affordable and accessible.
“Since efficient transportation is the backbone of any economy, we are happy to be committing this investment in our transport infrastructure, so that our people can meet their daily targets and aspirations. This all-important transport project we are all gathered to witness today represents a major step in this direction.”
Sanwo-Olu disclosed that the implementation of the Red Line was being supported under the Differentiated Cash Reserve Requirement (DCRR) programme – a financing package put in place by the State Government through the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN). The governor expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, for supporting the State in the bid to make the project a reality. He praised also the bankers who facilitated the funding.
To facilitate smooth operations of the Red Line, Sanwo-Olu said 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 flag-off of the construction was also attended by Rotimi Amaechi, minister of Transportation, who was represented by the director-general of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Jamoh.
State commissioner for transportation, Frederic Oladehinde, described the red line as a continuation of the implementation of the state’s strategic transport master plan, which made provision for six standard rail lines, one monorail, 14 BRT corridors and over 20 waterway routes.