Sanwo-Olu May Deliver Blue Line Rail Before Christmas

By Ebenezer Ishola 

Baring last minute changes, Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu may give Lagosians a huge and unexpected Christmas gift.

Though it is coming 11 years behind schedule, Governor Sanwo-Olu in accordance with his promise in February last year, will hand over the Blue Line rail system as a Christmas gift to Lagosians.

Already, ahead of the proposed handover, the Blue line is said to be undergoing massive test run by the contractor’s team of engineers, to attest to its stability and readiness for commercial operation.

Work started on the Blue line in 2006 as a world bank assisted project. It was inherited by Governor Babatunde Fashola who made it a priority project and took it to about 80 percent completion when he left office in 2015.

Paucity of funds had plagued the project, forcing the last administration to abandon it until it was revitalised by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in 2021, despite the ravages of the COVID-pandemic.

Lagos State is the only sub-national in Africa to embark on an intra-city metro rail project, without any input whatsoever from the Federal Government.

The 13km rail project from Mile 2 to Marina, which is electric, will be the first Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) propelled metrorail engine in sub-Saharan Africa and it is constructed and would run exclusively on a dedicated independent Power Plant (IPP) electricity which further pushes the state’s commitment to cleaner energy and sustainable environment.

Sources said all the five train stations on the corridor are almost ready as finishing touches are already being put on them to make them available to flag off operation.

A source within the CCECC, the contractor which handled the projects who spoke on the pledge of anonymity on Sunday told The Nation that all the train stations are almost ready.

These stations are at: Mile 2, Orile, Alaba, National Theatre and Marina.

“The stations at Orile, Alaba and Iganmu are fully ready long before now, and they just needed a touch up. Where the job is are at Mile 2 and Marina. Work is at advanced stages at these stations.

“Mile 2 and Marina which serves as the two interchanges on the corridor, donated by the Agence Francoise de Development AFD, are being worked upon and Marina especially is being proposed as an iconic interchange on the corridor.

“Work has reached advanced stage at Marina and what remains are minor things and we are speeding thing up to ensure that we get things ready ahead of the commissioning before the end of this year or very early next year” the source added.

He said that the Blue line will be powered by electricity.

The Lagos Blue Line Rail is the flagship of the Lagos State Rail Mass Transit, and one of the six developed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), which is developing two landmark projects the Blue and Red lines simultaneously and hopes to deliver both by Q1 next year.

The railway equipment including electric power, signals, rolling stock, and fare collection backbone w8ll be provided by the private sector on a concession basis.

While the first phase of the Blue line would be from Mike w to Marina, the first phase of the Red Line is from Agbado to Oyingbo.

The first phase of the Blue line was originally expected to be commissioned in 2011, and the Lagos State Government in February last year had announced that the Blue and Red lines would be completed by December 2022.

Earlier during a tour of the project, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had disclosed that he would be carrying out a test on the line in December, and passenger operation will start by Q1, 2023.

He equally assured that his administration will soon begin work on the Phase 2, which would take construction from Mile2 to Okokomaiko. Stations on the Phase 2 axis would be at Festac, Alakija, Trade Fair, Volkswagen, LASU and Okokomaiko.

“We are already discussing with the Ogun State Government to extend the construction to Agbara,” Sanwo-Olu had said.

LAMATA’s Managing Director Engr Mrs Abimbola Akinajo described the Blue line rail as the most difficult project the Lagos State Government has embarked upon in recent times concerning the many challenges the project had encountered.

“To get to this point, we have had disturbances and delays in the relocation of submarine cables, submarine natural gas pipelines, and removal of underground ship wreckages. The submarine geological conditions are complex, thus making construction in the lagoon extremely difficult.

“On a number of times, barges have collided with the trestle supporting our construction activities while the outbreak of Covid19 epidemic, and the long transportation cycle of imported equipment and materials have contributed to delays in the prompt completion of the rail project.”

She said the contractor has almost finished retrofitting the Mile 2, Alaba, Iganmu and National Theatre stations in readiness for passenger operations.

She said at least 500,000 passengers are expected to ride on the train daily and this is expected to increase to about 1.5 million passengers when operation is fully activated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *