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Rail project to improve Lagos’ transportation

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By Timothy Akintola

System promises a faster and more affordable travel experience.

Lagos, despite being one of the largest commercial hubs in Africa, is faced with numerous developmental problems such as overpopulation, housing deficiencies, high living cost and transportation challenges. Commuters in Lagos face a myriad of challenges as a result of the inadequate implementation of transportation systems and infrastructures in the city. Recurring heavy traffic and accidents continue to endanger the lives and properties of residents who go on about their daily activities. The lack of maintenance of the commuting system at the core of’ transportation have also contributed significantly to the poor condition of the sector.

In a bid to improve the transportation status quo in the city, is investing in the rail transportation system which experts such as Yinka Jones and Lookman Oshodi, the Lead Researchers for Lagos African City Research Consortium, indicate would immensely impact the city’s urban planning. The rail system is posed to offer a faster, convenient, and more affordable commuting experience compared to the road transport options in the city.

Recent Train-BRT bus crash indicate the ravaging congestion.

The congestion of roads within Lagos has been evident in the Train-BRT bus crash, which at least six people were killed and many others in critical conditions. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Lagos State Governor noted that the tragedy was a preventable one. However, this congested-related transportation challenge is what the state government has been trying to salvage. Reports indicates that the train involved in this recent crash was one of the federal government’s blue rail lines, built by the federal government to transport about 500,000 commuters on a daily basis.

Also, there is a red line project which has been scheduled for completion by the end of this year’s first quarter. These rail lines are expected to be a part of six rail lines and a monorail that has been designed by the Lagos state government to salvage the recurring traffic congestion situation in the state. This overarching plan, which reportedly went through some redesigns and expansions on the prior plans for the cancelled metro line to accommodate 14 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors, important regional roads and numerous water routes, have been credited to the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, while he governed the state. However, since this plan was drafted, as well as the establishment of LAMATA in 2002, only a line and a half was delivered.

He urged the government to maintain continuity with this project to avoid delay.

Governor Sanwo-Olu explained that without doubt, the journey to completing this project has had stories of delay and promised that the state government would focus on how beneficial the project would be for the people. The completion of first phase of the blue line took about 13 years and the Chinese contractors that built this attributed the main causes of this delay to funding shortages, the Covid-19 pandemic and surge in prices of materials. Muda Yusuf, an economist and CEO of the Center for the Promotion of Private Enterprise made this known during an interview. He stated that it would be immensely helpful if the state government improves its funding, especially through the Private Public Partnership (PPP). He also urged the government to maintain continuity with this project to avoid delay and more expenses.

In completing the first phase of the blue line, the Lagos state government partnered with Access Bank, Fidelity Bank and Sterling Bank Plc, all under a funding scheme designed by the Central Bank of Nigeria. The Lagos state Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotoso noted that it was the plan of the state to continually work with important investors and stakeholders to ensure completion of the future rail projects. He added that the state government, in a bid to ease off traffic congestion, was focusing on constructing the green line from Marina to Lekki Free Trade Zone, as well as the purple line from Redeem to Ojo.

Rail line operation would reduce congestion and travel time.

A hub for millions of residents, is referred to as a mega city, due to its sustained influx of people from every other parts of the world for business and social developments. In fact, statistics shows that about 6000 people migrate into Lagos on a daily basis. Yusuf, noted that every city with a dense population like Lagos enact functioning rail infrastructures that help their economy operate efficiently. Loss of productivity have been attributed to the immense congestion that has ravaged the state, with the 2015 UN-habitat Prosperity Index, rating Lagos as the lowest of 11 African cities in terms of productivity and infrastructure. Gbenga Omotoso however noted that with the operations of these rail lines, congestion and travel time would be significantly reduced.

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