Lagos mass transit Red Line train: A bold step to birth a new Lagos- Adekunle Yussuf

At the groundbreaking ceremony of a new rapid rail system in Lagos, promoters of the ambitious project enthused that the resultant intermodal transport landscape will improve commuting and connectivity in the country’s economic capital, reports  ADEKUNLE YUSUF

Imagine the enthralling sweetness and comfort of doing a regular journey within Lagos metropolis without the usually grueling traffic snarls. Imagine again that your average daily commuting that often consumes between two to five grinding hours is reduced to just 35 minutes – all done in a safer and more comfortable mode. Very soon, in Lagos, this will no longer be a possibility that exists only in the realm of imagination.

That was the promise made to Lagosians by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu at the groundbreaking ceremony of the new Lagos mass transit Red Line train last week. By the time the new rapid rail system is fully completed and operational in December 2022, he enthused that the resultant multi-modal transport system will birth a new lease of commuting experience in terms of comfort and choice in Lagos. Being part of the traffic management plan designed to actualise the Lagos Rail Mass Transit master plan, the state expects the two lines (Red and Blue Lines) to change the state’s chaotic transport landscape in a way unprecedented in Nigeria’s economic nerve center.

The ceremony, which had in attendance the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi (represented by the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh), was held at the proposed site of the Ikeja Train Station. The Red Line, a project of LAMATA, will have eight train stations – from Agbado to Oyingbo. The Red Line, designed to complement the Blue Line that traverses from Okokomaiko to Marina, is expected to raise mass transportation capacity in the state. The Blue Line is at 78 per cent completion.

Inside the new Lagos transportation landscape

Contracted to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Red Line project is the second light rail project of the state. The construction of the first line, the LRMT Blue Line project, began in 2010. According to Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), both projects are part of the state’s ambitious Strategic Transport Master Plan, which aims to meet the rising demands of future transportation in the state.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, described the project as another initiative of his administration to frontally address the state’s transport menace and deliver enduring infrastructure for the transport system and make Lagos a competitive megacity. According to him, Lagos plays a pivotal role in the Nigerian economy as the country’s commercial nerve center and the focal point of economic activities.

“Our desire is to achieve improved connectivity amongst transport modes, making commuting within Lagos easy as well as business-like for every Lagosian and visitor. The Lagos Gross Domestic Product accounted for 26.7 per cent of Nigeria’s total GDP and more than 50 per cent of non-oil GDP. Over 50 per cent of Nigeria’s non-oil industrial capacity is located in Lagos. Since transportation is the backbone of any economy, it then means we need to invest in our transport infrastructure so that our people can meet their daily targets and aspirations,” he added.

According to the General Manager of LAMATA, Mrs. Abimbola Akinajo, the state is working assiduously to ensure the delivery of the rail lines to passenger operation by the last quarter of next year. “These two lines will change the transport landscape of Lagos when operational. We have a transport master plan which speaks to the vision of Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu on transportation. We have six rail lines and one monorail, 14 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors, over 20 water routes and we are sure that when all of these are properly harnessed, Lagos will join the league of cities with an efficient transport system.

“We have advertised four other rail lines for the private sector to invest. We are working on the private sector so they could bring in about 1,500 high capacity buses by 2022. We would be launching our First Mile Last Mile scheme very soon. We are working on the construction of two interchanges at Mile 2 and CMS. We want to ensure that Lagosians travel in comfort. The plan is to ensure that Lagosians begin to enjoy the benefits of an intermodal integrated transport system, which provides choices for Lagos commuters without stress to achieve their daily commute needs, and meet up their economic and social engagements.”

The LAMATA boss explained that the Lagos Rail Mass Transit is an urban rail system with equipment including electric power, signaling, rolling stock, and fare collection equipment. The facilities will be provided by the private sector under a Concession Contract; while LAMATA is responsible for policy direction, regulation, and infrastructure for the network. The Red line will be 30km long and will run between Marina and Agbado; just as the Blue line will be 27km long, connecting Okokomaiko to Marina.

In his address at the ceremony, Jiang Yigao, managing director of the CCECC, said the project was another great milestone of the state for solving transportation challenges in line with the government’s development blueprint. According to him, the 32-km Red Line will be constructed in three phases, and will run from Agbado, a suburban area of the state to Marina, a top business district. “It is noteworthy that the project, when completed, will ensure faster movement of people and will reduce the congestion on the roads,” Jiang said, adding that CCECC will work closely with Lagos state to ensure timely delivery and good quality of the project.

Construction of the long-planned Red Line in Lagos was launched on April 15 with a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the future Ikeja station attended by the

Sanwo-Olu explained that the north-south mass transit line running 37 km from Marina to Agbado is to be built in three phases, with the initial section between Agbado to Oyingbo serving eight stations expected to be operational by the last quarter of 2022. The bulk of the route between Agbado and Iddo will share an alignment with NRC’s Lagos – Ibadan main line, which has recently been reconstructed to 1 435 mm gauge. Dedicated tracks are to be provided for the suburban service between Oyingbo and the main line terminus at Ebute-Metta.

According to him, the southern section of the route will follow a new alignment from Ebute-Metta to Marina, where interchange will be provided to the 27 km east-west Blue Line from Okokomaiko, which has been under construction since 2010, and is reported to be 78 per cent complete. The Red Line, which is expected to cut journey times between Agbado and the city centre from the current 2½ hours to around 35 minutes, is projected to carry more than 1 million passengers/day when fully operational. The first phase will have a design capacity for 500 000 passengers/day.

The Red Line will interchange with local bus services at Oyingbo, Yaba, Oshodi, Ikeja and Iju. It would also connect with the future Orange Line from Ikeja to Agbowa, while an elevated walkway would connect the railway to Murtala Muhammed International Airport. First proposed as long ago as 1983, the Red Line is being funded through a government financing package put in place by the Central Bank of Nigeria, described as a Differentiated Cash Reserve Requirement. “Today’s flag-off for the construction of infrastructure for the Red Line demonstrates our commitment to achieve the objectives of traffic management and transportation pillar in our development agenda.”

A compensation regime that leaves no one behind

Being a massive infrastructure project that will traverse from Agbado to Marina, the 37-km Lagos Rail Mass Transit Red Line is envisaged to move more than one million commuters daily when completed in the last quarter of next year. It would no doubt alleviate the composite challenges Lagosians face daily in the bid to eke out a living, promoters of the iconic project said. But this would not be feasible without displacement and alteration to existing physical structures in the state.

Speaking during the ground-breaking ceremony of the Red Line project in Ikeja, Governor Sanwo-Olu said his administration is not unmindful of displacements the infrastructure would cause for some people, businesses and organisations. To minimize the effect of such displacements to people and businesses, he said the state government had worked out a generous compensation package for all those directly and indirectly affected by verifying all bonafide property owners in areas earmarked for the project. And to walk his talk, the governor commenced compensation payment for identified 263 Project Affected Persons (PAPs) of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit Red Line.

During the ground-breaking ceremony, cheques of varying amounts as compensation were presented to 25 residents/tenants out of 263 whose properties, businesses and accommodation would be affected by the project. While explaining that beneficiaries were those who had been verified to be bonafide property owners, business owners and tenants of the affected buildings, Governor Sanwo-Olu said the presentation of cheques to the other PAPs would continue subsequently so as to reduce their pains. Appreciating the sacrifices of all the PAPs, he said the names of all those that forfeited their belongings would be permanently etched in the annals of development history of the state as those made it possible for Lagosians to enjoy a better lease of life in terms of living and commuting in the ever-expanding metropolis.

Those compensated at the event included the Ikeja Club N78,659,000 and Blessing Okhawere (tenant) with the sum of N140,000. Also, another beneficiary, Alimi Daudu, was compensated with N12,213,180, among others.

First Published in Nation

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