Sanwo-Olu, Hamzat, others test run Blue Rail Line as first phase is completed

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Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State, his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa and other prominent Lagosians on Wednesday rode in the Blue Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) from the National Theatre Station in Iganmu to Marina.

This signalled the completion of the first phase of the LRMT, which covered Marina-Mile 2.

Speaking at the ceremony to mark the completion of the rail infrastructure, the governor said the project which was the first of its kind in Nigeria, was a promise kept, saying Lagosians will benefit more from his administration.

He said the official opening would be in January 2023 by President Muhammadu Buhari when the second phase covering Mile 2 to Okokomaiko will commence.

The Blue Rail Mass Transit line is a 27km project spanning Mile 2, Iganmu, Marina, Alaba and Okokomaiko.

The five stations have been completed, with 13km of the rail tracks laid in the first phase. This first phase will transport 250,000 passengers daily and, when completed, the entire 27km will transport about 500,000 passengers daily. Each train comprises four coaches and each coach can take up to 180 passengers conveniently.

Sanwo-Olu said: “This milestone in the development of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit is the culmination of several impactful reforms in the transport ecosystem of Lagos State, starting in 1999, the dawn of the fourth Republic, when Asiwaju Bola Tinubu assumed office as the governor.

“Our vision for an integrated transport system is enunciated in the Traffic Management and Transportation pillar of our T.H.E.M.E.S agenda. Our transportation strategy is a multimodal one, bringing together the various elements of road, rail, and water, and ensuring they are seamlessly integrated.

“Coincidentally, Marina is central to our integrated multimodal transport system, being a melting pot for all the transportation modes. I am happy to announce that we will be developing Marina into an integrated transport interchange, with the support of the French Development Agency (AFD).

“I am also happy to inform you that the three train sets for the commercial passenger operations for the Blue Line are already on ground.

“I want to also place on record the role played by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). The CBN’s Differentiated Cash Reserves Requirement (DCRR) made it possible for Fidelity, Sterling and Access banks to pool resources together to provide credit financing for the completion of this first phase of the Blue Line. I am grateful to the leadership of the three banks for believing in us.

“To all of you the good people of Lagos, thank you for your patience, 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; please ensure you safeguard it.

“You should also bear in mind that this rail system is powered by electricity and must therefore not be trespassed in any way. “Crossing the tracks is no longer an option, and the issue of vandalism in any form should not even arise at all. Pedestrian bridges have been provided to enable you to cross from one side to the other.

To the glory of God, it is now my pleasure to formally announce the completion of the infrastructure for the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Blue Line. We will now begin test-running of the line in preparation for its commissioning for commercial passenger operations in the first quarter of 2023.”

Also speaking, Managing Director of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) Mrs. Abimbola Akinajo described the project as a manifestation of the ‘audacious mind and courage of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and members of the State Executive Council’.

According to her, the Blue Line is one of the six rail lines articulated in the Lagos State Strategic Transport Master Plan (STMP), a brainchild of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate and former Lagos governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

She added: “Construction of the Blue line has been one of the most challenging projects the state has ever embarked upon, given the many issues we have had to overcome. To get to this point, we have had disturbances and delays in the relocation of submarine cables, submarine natural gas pipelines, and removal of underwater shipwrecks. 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 COVID-19 epidemic, and the long transportation cycle of imported equipment and materials also contributed to delays in the prompt completion of the rail project.

“But today the story has changed. Today, Mr. Governor and other distinguished guests will take the first ride on this train using our unified electronic payment system, Cowry Card, which is currently the means of payment on our regulated buses and ferry services.

“On our projection, we reckon that this phase would move no less than 250,000 passengers daily, while the entire line when completed would move more than 500,000 passengers.

“This will translate to a huge reduction in greenhouse gas emission. Besides, this rail system is powered by electricity, which again shows our sensitivity to protecting our environment and the future of our state.

“The rail system would provide thousands of direct and indirect jobs for our youths as well as training to equip them to work in the rail industry.”

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