By Benjamin Omoike
The Lagos Government (LASG), has flagged off the commencement of the first phase of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT), Red Line Project.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony on Thursday, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, said since transportation is the backbone of any economy, it is necessary for the State to invest in transport infrastructure, for Lagosians to meet their daily targets and aspirations.
“Today, we begin another journey into making our State competitive as we further our commitment to building an enduring infrastructure for our transport system,” he said.
According to him, based on the first pillar of the Administration’s policy thrust, which emphasises transportation and traffic management encapsulated in the THEMES agenda, the State’s commitment is to develop an efficient and sustainable transportation system that will improve mobility, promote economic growth and enhance the living conditions of our people.
“This all-important transport project, the ground breaking of which we are all gathered to witness today, represents a major step in this direction.
“We are therefore committed to renewing our infrastructure, building new ones where necessary, expanding and improving facilities that are prerequisite to an efficient and integrated transportation system based on our Strategic Transport Master plan which encompasses a number of projects that are germane to achieving our vision for a Greater Lagos,” he said
He mentioned that the plan is founded on a number of imperatives which include, “increasing transport choices for all users, make the transit system integrated, attractive, convenient, affordable and accessible, reduce urban transportation-induced emissions, optimise usage of current road network, integrate land use development (urban physical planning) and urban transport planning and secure long term financing of investment plan.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu assured that his administration would continue to search for every available means of funding for transport infrastructure, in a bid to ensure that by 2022, the two rail lines would become operational, with the initiation of the construction of two more lines, in partnership with the private sector.
Governor Sanwo-Olu dislclosed that his administration is simultaneously working on bringing the first phase of the Blue Line to passenger operation, projected to commence operation by the fourth quarter of 2022.
According to him, the construction of infrastructure for the standard gauge Red Line, which would share tracks with the Lagos-Ibadan Railway Modernisation Projects and whose implementation started Thursday, is divided into two phases.
“The implementation of the Red line project has become very elevated because of the financing package put in place for it by the State Government through the Central Bank Nigeria (CBN) Differentiated Cash Reserve Requirement (DCRR) programme,” he said.
As part of the ground-breaking ceremony and in fulfilment of the promise of the Government, cheques were presented as compensation to those whose property, businesses and accommodation will be affected by the project.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, however, appealed to all Lagosians on the need to bear with patience the temporary pains and the inconveniences that would be experienced in the course of this project.
“I implore you to cooperate with the contractors as we implement this life-changing and impacting project for the seamless mobility of all Lagosians,” he said.
In her remarks, the Managing Director, Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Engr. Abimbola Akinajo, mentioned that the project speaks to the significance of having a robust and thriving transport sector which is strategically the backbone of the economy.
She described the effort as a major step in bringing the Babajide Sanwo-Olu led administration’s commitment to enhanced integrated transport system into fulfillment, based on the policy thrust encapsulated in the THEMES Agenda.
She disclosed that the rail line is expected to convey circa 500,000 passengers a day for the phase one and once the full project is implemented, it will carry circa one million passengers a day.
The Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Red Line is a 37km North-South rail project divided into two implementation phases, with the capacity to move more than one million passengers daily when fully operational. With 12 proposed stations, the first phase will cover Oyingbo to Agbado with nine stations.