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Lagos Blue Rail Line: Get Set, Ready… 

By Gbenga Salau 
25 December 2022   |   4:15 am
With the completion of infrastructure works in the first phase of the Lagos Blue Rail Line, Lagosians living along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway and beyond are simply exhilarated by the prospects that the novel intra-city commuting holds.

The Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; Deputy Governor, Dr Obafemi Hamzat; the State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Managing Director, Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Abimbola Akinajo during the commemoration of completion ceremony for the First Phase of Lagos Rail Mass Transit Blue Line (Marina – Mile 2), at the National Theatre Blue line station, Iganmu.

With the completion of infrastructure works in the first phase of the Lagos Blue Rail Line, Lagosians living along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway and beyond are simply exhilarated by the prospects that the novel intra-city commuting holds. 

Besides revolutionising commuting on that corridor, the completion of the project is happening about a decade after it should have been delivered.  Connecting Lagos Island from the mainland has, for many, remained an arduous trip, but the pain has, of late, been compounded by the partial closure of Eko Bridge.
It is in light of this and many other considerations that a train ride to the Island would constitute a pleasant experience, especially with the hectic traffic on that route circumvented, and the trip executed easily, and swiftly.
When Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, alongside state officials and the media undertook a test ride on the train, they arrived at the Marina Station just 10 minutes after leaving the Costain Station. In most cases, the trip takes about an hour or thereabouts at peak, and off-peak periods.
Apart from most people present at the event concluding that the novel transformation was worth the wait, the development is the first time that a rail infrastructure has traversed the western part of the state and Lagos Island. 
The completed tracks, spanning 13 kilometres in the first phase, extend from Mile 2 to Marina and cover five stations. Sanwo-Olu, who could not hide his excitement about the development, declared the end of construction work on the Blue Rail Line project, in line with the December 2022 deadline, which he made. 
The rail infrastructure, the governor said, is now ready for commissioning in January by President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that the milestone was a culmination of “impactful reforms” initiated in the state’s transport ecosystem, which started at the beginning of the Fourth Republic, under the administration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
In describing the moment as “historic,” Sanwo-Olu claimed that Lagos has become the first sub-national government in Africa to fund and deliver a rail system from the state’s balance sheet. The construction of the second phase of the Blue Rail Line Rail project, which covers 14 kilometres, from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko, will be launched immediately after the completion, and the inauguration of the first phase next month. 
He said: “The completion of the infrastructure for the first phase of the Lagos Blue Line Rail is a strong testimony of our commitment to building on the legacies of past administrations, and the pioneering vision of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. This milestone in the development of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) is the culmination of several impactful reforms in the transport ecosystem of Lagos, starting in 1999.
“The Tinubu administration developed the Strategic Transport Master Plan (STMP), which laid out the foundation for a network of robust and modern transport infrastructure befitting the 21st Century city. The master plan has six rail lines and one monorail, 14 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors, over 20 water routes, and several major new roads. Central to the implementation of the transport master plan is the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) established in 2002.
“Over the last two decades, that master plan has been faithfully implemented by successive administrations. Today, we are making history with the completion of the historic rail line, which is the first phase of the Blue Line. The road to the completion of this project, no doubt, has had an interesting story of delays, which were not due to a lack of enthusiasm, or commitment on the part of the state government. Now, we have put the challenges behind us; from now on, we will focus on the benefits of this project for our people.”
After commissioning, Sanwo-Olu said that passenger operations would not commence until the project undergoes the necessary test-running and proper security measures are put in place along the rail corridor.
The governor said the state had already taken delivery of three sets of wagons that would be used for passenger operations. And the completed rail infrastructure, he added, can move 250,000 passengers daily. 
When the second phase is completed, he added, the entire project would convey 500, 000 people daily. Sanwo-Olu stressed that his administration’s vision for an integrated transport system, as enunciated in the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda, was becoming a reality, stressing that his administration’s transportation plan was a multimodal approach that would bring road, rail, and waterways together for seamless mobility.
The governor, who acknowledged the efforts of his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola towards bringing the vision to life, thanked the leadership of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for allowing Lagos to access its differentiated cash reserves, which was disbursed through three financial institutions – Access Bank, Sterling Bank, and Fidelity Bank – that created innovative funding model for the Blue Line project.
He said: “To the good people of Lagos, this project is for you and your families. It is about your livelihood and sustenance. We promised to make your life better with this project, which will help you to commute from one part of the city to another safely and securely. We gave you this commitment and now, we have kept our promises.
“We thank you for your patience and for bearing with us in the face of all the inconveniences thrown up by the implementation of the light rail network. This project is for you; ensure you safeguard it. Bear in mind that this rail system is powered by electricity; there must not be a trespass on it in any way. Crossing the tracks is no longer an option. Anyone who attempts vandalism on the track put his life at great risk. Pedestrian bridges have been provided to enable pedestrian crossings.”
The Managing Director of LAMATA, Abimbola Akinajo, described the development as “fantastic,” saying that it marked a new chapter for Lagos. The completion of the rail infrastructure, she said, manifested the audacious mind of the governor, stressing that the development signified the importance that the Sanwo-Olu administration accorded the delivery of an integrated transportation system for the state and traffic management.
Akinajo said that the Blue Line is one of the six rail lines articulated in the State’s Strategic Transportation Master Plan, noting that the construction was funded from the state’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). 
This, she said, is unprecedented in the history of rail construction across the world. She said: “Construction of the Blue Line has been one of the most challenging projects undertaken by the Lagos government, given many hitches that had to be overcome. To get to the point of completion, we have had disturbances and delays in the relocation of submarine cables, gas pipelines, and the removal of shipwrecks. This made the construction of the submarine pillar extremely difficult.

 “Today, the story has changed. We are taking the first ride on the train, which marks the beginning of our testing phases for the Blue Line. Passengers will use the state’s unified electronic payment system known as Cowry Card currently being used for BRT and regulated ferry services. The completion of civil infrastructure work is the manifestation of the audacious mind and courage of the governor,” Akinajo, an engineer said.
In his goodwill message, the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, noted that the launch of the completion of infrastructure for the first phase of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Blue Line rail is a confirmation of Sanwo-Olu’s expounded vision for public transportation.
“Mr. Governor, I want to say Thank You for sticking to your promise to Lagosians that the infrastructure for the first phase of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit Blue Line rail (Marina – Mile 2) would be completed in the last quarter of this year. Lagosians now trust you that you are a man of integrity and that is why they have asked you to continue the good job in 2023 and beyond,” he stated. Oladeinde said the development attested to the governor’s passion to change the transportation narrative of the state and ensure rapid mobility in Lagos. 
The rail project, the commissioner said, will enhance rapidity in movement and unlock more economic prosperity for the state.
“Lagosians now trust you because you are a man of your word and integrity. Mr. Governor, you will be remembered for the commitment you deployed to ensure that this infrastructure is completed and becomes a reality,” Oladeinde said. 
The Chairman of China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), Mr. Zhang Zhichen, said the project was delivered with approved standards and quality, noting that the completion of the Blue Line would write a new chapter for mass transportation in Lagos.