By BENJAMIN OMOIKE
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Monday, flagged off commercial operations of the train service provided by the government in the state – by riding on the maiden passenger operations of the Blue Line Rail from Marina Terminal to Mile-2 Station.
Sanwo-Olu, who was the first passenger at the iconic Marina Station of the Blue Line Rail, was joined by dignitaries, which included his wife, Ibijoke; Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; Secretary to Lagos State Government, Mrs. Abimbola Salu-Hundeyin; Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) Chairman, Pastor Cornelius Ojelabi; Commissioner of Police, Idowu Owohunwa; government officials and party leaders, among others, to ride on the train from Marina to Mile 2.
The Governor, who served as the Head of the Train Operations during the first commercial operations of the Blue Line rail boarded the train at exactly 9.10 a.m.
He boarded from the first coach and walked to the seventh coach, taking time as the Head of Train Operations to explain the requirements on how to board the train to the passengers.
The ride from the Marina Terminal to Mile 2 takes about 25 minutes, with a 90-second stoppage at each of the five stations before the final destination.
Speaking to journalists at the Marina Station, Governor Sanwo-Olu urged Lagosians to take ownership of the project and warned against pedestrian crossing of the rail tracks, saying that they are electrified.
He said: “About 800 of us have just completed the first commercial journey on the Blue Line. I think we all had a wonderful experience this morning. I am extremely excited about the work that LAMATA and all other stakeholders have done to ensure that we can keep our commitment to start this operation on the 4th of September, 2023.
“I am dressed as the Head of the Train Operators to ensure that simple safety and security procedures are kept throughout the journey. All of these very simple safety and security tips were complied with during and throughout the journey.
“The LASRRA (Lagos State Residents Registration Agency) card, which is our state’s citizens identity card, can also be used on the train. So I want to employ all of you, especially students to go and get your LASRRA cards because you can use them to travel on the train.
“On the Cowry Card, we have almost 4 million citizens that have the Cowry cards already and the cards can be used on the train, on our buses, BRT and also on the ferry service. So, let us go out there and get our Cowry card and top it up so that we can enjoy our integrated urban mass transportation system that we have talked about.”
Governor Sanwo-Olu also commended the first Governor of Lagos State in the Fourth Republic and now President, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for putting in place the transportation master plan in the state.
“I want to commend all of our leaders and the people that have kept faith with the modern Lagos that we have today. But more importantly, I think it is important for us to acknowledge the great work that our President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the first Governor of Lagos State in the current dispensation did by starting the vision of the Lagos State Urban Mass Transportation System with the creation of LAMATA.
“It was from that master plan that we have a train infrastructure, the road master plan infrastructure, and all other deliverables that we are seeing today. So we need to thank him and we need to acknowledge all the great works he has done in Lagos. God will give him the opportunity to also do it bigger for Nigeria.
Speaking on the Red Line Rail, Governor Sanwo-Olu, said the project which is 96 percent completed would be commissioned by President Tinubu before the end of the year, adding that the various stations and bridges constructed for the Red Line rail would be commissioned starting from the end of the month.
He said: “The Red Line currently is about 95-96 percent and if it doesn’t get to 100 percent, we won’t commission it. But we are certain that before the end of the year, we will also commission the Red Line.
“By the end of this month or the first week in October, we will start commissioning the bridges – Ikeja Along Bridge, Yaba Bridge, Ebute-Metta Bridge, Mushin Bridge, Ayoola Coker and all the other bridges. We will start opening the bridges for vehicular movements, then we will start the commissioning of the various stations; from Oyingbo Station to Yaba to Mushin, Ikeja to Agege and to Iju. We will commission all the stations, and then we will have a final movement, which I hope Mr. President will come to help us to do before the end of the year.”
Also speaking, the Managing Director of the Lagos State Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Engr. Abimbola Akinajo said from tomorrow, Tuesday, September 5, partial passenger operations will start from 6:30am to 10am, for Morning Peak; and Afternoon Peak, from 4pm to 9:30pm.
These operations, according to Akinajo, will start with 12 trips for two weeks, which will later be increased to 76 trips per day.
Some of the passengers at the train stations commended the Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led government for the laudable project, saying the Blue Line rail is a relief for residents.
The Blue Line Rail project is constructed by the Lagos State Government and supervised by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), as part of the development and improved intermodal transport system in the state.
The rail line project started during the administration of former Governor Babatunde Fashola but the first phase – 13km (Marina to Mile 2) on the Lagos-Badagry corridor was completed by the Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration.
The Blue Line Rail was commissioned in January 2023 by former President Muhammadu Buhari.