Rekindled hope for the Lagos railway project

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s recent statement that the Lagos Blue and Red lines rail would commence operation by the fourth quarter of this year is significant not only for the hope it raises among the state’s residents who have to go through excruciating experience daily to move to and from their livelihood; but also as a major step towards turning Lagos into a megacity and an enviable one at that.

The importance of mass transit in Lagos that is teeming with population cannot be overemphasized. With an estimated population of about 20 million and most of those in the working-age bracket having to traverse the state to eke out a living, the daily traffic situation is best imagined than experienced. Moreover, successive governments in the state have not been able to keep to all their promises, particularly regarding public transportation. When and if accomplished, that road is expected to remove more than half of the headache of commuters in that area of Lagos. So far, it is too little too late, but Sanwo-Olu’s promise can still redeem the situation.

A lot still needs to be done to get the train service going. Attention has to be given to public transportation in this country. Lagos is in a position to lead, as it has done in many instances. The state needs to show more seriousness in its quest for modernisation, given that public transportation through relatively cheap mass transit is a strong way to impact the people and the state’s economy.

Sanwo-Olu made the affirmation when he took a tour around the train project where the Red Line begins to Yaba, Ebute Meta and finally to Marina. The Blue Line is designed to commence from Okokomaiko to Marina, while the Red Line routes from Agbado to Marina. The two lines form an integrated train service that is designed to alleviate the herculean intra-city transport challenges that define Lagos.

The project, part of the Lagos Urban Transportation Project, is being handled by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) with the contract being executed by China’s state-owned China Civil Engineering Construction Corp (CCECC), expected to hand over by December 31, 2022. This corroborates Sanwo-Olu’s assurance about the commencement of the rail service by the fourth quarter of this year.

According to LAMATA, Lagosians should expect very robust transportation by the end of 2022, with fair prices and enjoyable infrastructure in the transport sector. Going by the economic power of Lagos State, which is ranked as the sixth-largest in Africa, this sort of project ought not to stall.

However, the authorities cannot afford to be overwhelmed by the intractable traffic situation in Lagos. The government in power should sustain the hope that the completion of the Lagos train service would alleviate the problems and make life more pleasurable.

Having promised to deliver the project this year, Sanwo-Olu should do everything to realise it without further delay. This rail project aims to reduce travel time through an effective and efficient inter-modal transport system. It is also key to the building of a 21st-century economy, which is central to the vision of greater Lagos.

Source: The Guardian

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