Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has announced the completion of the Lagos Blue Rail Line project, saying it would be commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari in January 2023.
Sanwo-Olu made this known after taking the first trip aboard the electric-powered rail infrastructure in Lagos on Wednesday.
The first trip marked the completion of the infrastructure work on the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) constructed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).
The completed tracks, spanning 13 kilometres in the first phase, extend from Mile 2 to Marina, covering five stations.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, who was visibly excited over the development, said the milestone was a culmination of “impactful reforms” initiated in the state’s transport ecosystem, which he said started at the beginning of the fourth republic under the administration of his predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Sanwo-Olu described the moment as “historic”, saying Lagos became the first sub-national government in Africa to fund and deliver a rail system from the state’s balance sheet.
The governor said the construction of the second phase of the Blue Line rail project, which covers 14-kilometre from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko, will be launched immediately after the completion and 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 a number of major new roads. Central to the implementation of the transport master plan is LAMATA established in 2002.
“Over the last two decades, that masterplan has been faithfully implemented by successive administrations. Today, we are making history with the completion of 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 passenger operations would not commence until the project undergoes necessary test-running and proper security measures are put in place along the rail corridor.
The governor said the state had already taken the delivery of the three set of wagons that would be used for passenger operations, adding that the completed rail infrastructure has the capacity to move 250,000 passengers daily.
When the second phase is completed, he said the entire project would take 500,000 people daily.
Sanwo-Olu said his administration’s vision for an integrated transport system, as enunciated in the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda, was beginning to be a reality, stressing that the transportation plan of his government was a multimodal approach that would bring road, rail, and waterways together for seamless mobility.
The governor further hailed the effort of his predecessor, Babatunde Fashola, toward bringing the vision to life just as he thanked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for allowing Lagos access its differentiated cash reserves, which he said was disbursed through three financial institutions that created innovative funding model for the Blue Line project.
Speaking at the event, the LAMATA Managing Director, Engr. Abimbola Akinajo, described the completion of the project as “fantastic”, saying the development marked a new chapter for Lagos State.
She said the completion of the rail infrastructure manifested the audacious mind of Sanwo-Olu, stressing that the development signified the importance of his administration accorded to the delivery of integrated transportation system for the state and traffic management.
Akinajo said the Blue Rail 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 Lagos State Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).