By BENJAMIN OMOIKE
LAGOS, Nigeria – Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday, commissioned the fourth flyover constructed along the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Red Line corridor, signifying the near completion of the 37-kilometre rail network connecting Lagos and Ogun States.
Ikeja Flyover – the largest overpass component of the Red Line project – was inaugurated by chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), and Kwara State Governor, Mallam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, on the invitation of his Lagos counterpart.
The project, undertaken by Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), is one of the T-shape overpasses planned along 10 level crossings along the rail alignment to eliminate pedestrian and vehicular interference on the tracks.
The flyovers significantly reduce the risk of accidents and collisions between trains and vehicles.The Ikeja overpass also resolved vehicular congestion and delays, hindering free movement in the vicinity.
The Red Line project, which fully began during Sanwo-Olu’s first term, is expected to move more than 500,000 passengers daily when it becomes operational.
It stretches from Agbado to Oyingbo, with eight stations at Agbado, Iju, Agege, Ikeja, Oshodi, Mushin, Yaba and terminates at Oyingbo.
Sanwo-Olu said the completion of ancillary infrastructure of the Red Line was precursor to the commencement of passenger operations of the metro line, which, he said, will be commissioned by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in the first quarter of next year.
The delivery of the overpass bridges, the Governor said, indicated his Government’s commitment to safety of Lagosians, pointing out that the bridges had permanently resolved fatal accidents occasioned by collisions at railway crossings.
He said: “When we came on board, we gave our words on the implementation of two rail lines, which are the LRMT Blue and Red lines. In the last four and a half years of our administration, we have prioritised the implementation of an integrated transportation system under the Traffic Management and Transportation pillar of our THEMES+ Agenda.
“We have delivered life-enhancing transport infrastructures which are making life easier for the average Lagosian. The first phase of the Blue Line is already in operation, giving a lot of relief to those using its corridor of operations. The flyover infrastructure we are commissioning today is one of the five overpass bridges we planned for the Red Line alignment, which is a precursor to the commencement of passenger operations.”
In 2024, Sanwo-Olu said Lagos would be rolling out 50 electric buses for passenger operations in pilot phase, following the completion of proof of concept on the feasibility of use of non-combustible engines as substitute for fuel-powered vehicles.
This, the Governor said, would enable Lagos to progress in its zero-carbon programme, with the expectation of becoming an emission-neutral city by 2050.
He said the State, in the first quarter of next year, would take delivery of additional 100 units of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)-buses from the Federal Government to be deployed on defined routes, while promising to raise the fleet to about 1,000 units before the end of next year.
“We remain committed to delivering a transport system that is safe, sustainable, integrated, seamless and with the potential to drive the socio-economic growth and development of Lagos and the country,” Sanwo-Olu said.
AbdulRazaq described the project as “another signature achievement, noting that the project alluded to the saying that “development is a process, and not a destination”.
The NGF chairman said the delivery of rail infrastructure by the Sanwo-Olu administration added another crest of honour to the legacy of President Tinubu, whose administration in Lagos created LAMATA to drive the State’s transport vision.
For its policy consistency and unbroken governance progression, the Kwara State Governor said Lagos remained an ideal model for other States in the country.
He said: “Lagos has been a beneficiary of bold and progressive vision built around people’s welfare. Particularly worthy of note is policy consistency and progression in governance. Successive administrations in Lagos have built on one another’s successes and projects that strengthen the State’s economic growth.
“This is adding to the legacy of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. I believe Lagos’ example is worth emulating around the country for faster socio-economic growth, regardless of political affiliation and individual differences. Development agenda should be people-focused as it is being done in Lagos.”
Commissioner for Transportation, Mr. Oluwaseun Osiyemi, called on motorists and commuters to adhere strictly to safety rules when using the flyover, emphasising that illegal activities, such as hawking and selling on and under the bridge were prohibited.
“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that Lagosians experience a transit system that not only enhances connectivity but also promotes a safe environment,” the Commissioner said.
LAMATA Managing Director, Mrs. Abimbola Akinajo, explained that the Ikeja Overpass, which has a length of 620 metres, was designed to maximise the efficiency of Red Line and NRC train schedules by minimising delays associated with level crossings.
She disclosed that Mushin Overpass, which is the last of the five flyovers being constructed by Lagos State Government along the Red Line alignment, has reached the completion stage.
“Mushin Flyover will be commissioned before next February,” Akinajo said.