By Ebenezer Ishola
Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu has assured that riding on Lagos Red and Blue Lines rail system will be affordable and cost-effective to passengers.
Governor Sanwo-Olu made this known on Sunrise Daily, a Channels Television breakfast programme, while speaking on the State of Lagos Infrastructure this morning.
The Governor stated that the provision of infrastructure; (construction of tracks, terminals, communication gadgets, acquisition of rolling stock and others), which are items on the Government balance sheet, has limited the factors that will determine the price of riding on the trains to running and maintenance cost, payment of personnel and few others.
His words: “Our administration is willing to extend the cost-recovery period or tenure of operation in order to ensure that fares on the trains will be affordable. Also, riding at peak and off-peak periods may also attract different fares thus giving passengers the option to plan their journeys cost-effectively.
“We are also working to establish a city-to-city relationship with Istanbul in Turkey, a city with similar demography and metro infrastructure, by which key personnel can be exposed to best practices and trained on regular, general and routine maintenance for operational efficiency”.
Speaking further, Governor Sanwo-Olu affirmed that the various projects of the administration, driven by the vision to reduce and predict travel time and ensure convenience for mass movement of people from one part of the State to another, will provide an efficient transport system that will address the State’s traffic challenges.
“There is deep thought to these projects and a strong policy document; the State Transportation Master Plan (STMP), which dictates that a megacity such as Lagos can only be run when all the transport modes are effectively and efficiently integrated and utilised.
“The initial focus on the development of a new route and track from Okokomaiko to Marina for the Blue Line, along with the expansion and upgrading of the corridor to 10-lane highway, was due to the difficulty encountered in getting the Federal Government approval to use the existing rail alignment for the Red Line; a project which has now commenced.
“The first phase of the Red Line from Alagbado to Oyingbo, which is witnessing massive construction works, will have eight stations at Iju, Ikeja, Oshodi, Ebute Metta and others. Our administration will complete and start the test run of both the Blue and Red Lines by the fourth quarter of 2022 as the terminals and tracks will be ready while installation of complementary facilities such as communication gadgets and other will still be on course”, he said.
For safety, he said the Government deliberately ensured the Blue Line has an elevated track from Orile to Marina and the route for the Red Line designed with five overpasses, which is a cheaper option, to avoid conflict with vehicular traffic, including the provision of CCTV, backed-up by the fibre optic infrastructure, that will be deployed for traffic management and to provide information for traffic and security personnel.
On financing the projects, he maintained that the State is aware of its debt stock and the need to meet existing obligations but still has a lot of rooms in terms of sustainability ratio as it is working to improve the IGR and negotiating for single digit loans from commercial lenders with a tenure of ten to fifteen years, among others.
According to Sanwo-Olu, who confirmed that wet and dry seasons feasibility study and traffic count are being carried out on the other lines with projected completion date of mid year 2022, the administration worked speedily on road and water transportation projects, with the acquisition of passenger boats of different capacities, building twenty eight jetties and dredging waterways, as part of the quick plans to expand the transport system and reduce inconveniences because the rail is a capital intensive and long-term project.
“This is why our administration will continue to earn the trust of Lagosians by constantly and continuously engaging with them on the various policies, programmes and projects being undertaken in the State. We can only achieve the needed buy-in of the people for which the projects are being provided by letting them know the plan for them through continuous communication with all stakeholders, especially with the temporal inconvenience that comes with the various construction”, he pledged.
Sanwo-Olu, who confirmed that the focus of the administration is about providing jobs, enabling the economy and moving the people efficiently from one place to another, again, expressed excitement about the employment opportunities of the projects which he described as enormous and expected to start with extensive adverts for operators such as Managers, Engineers, Ticketers, Cleaners, etc in their hundreds, in addition to encouraging the growth of commercial activities around the stations.
He further said Oba Sekumade in Ikorodu has reached eighty percent completion stage and will be delivered in the second quarter of the year, the contractor is back on site at Igbogbo-Baiyeku road, construction work is progressing on Agric-Ishawo road and the Lagos Badagry Expressway up to Okokomaiko is to be completed by the end of year 2022, as the administration has also completed two out of the three jetties being constructed to complement the Expressway so that people can explore the shorter and faster waterways.
He concluded saying the 4th mainland Bridge is one of the legacy projects that the administration will leave behind as three concessionaires have already been shortlisted and a ground-breaking ceremony may be conducted by the middle of the year.