At exactly 1:31 pm on Wednesday, 21 December 2023, history was recorded in Lagos State. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu formally stepped into the coach of the newly completed Lagos Blue Line and took the first trip aboard the electric-powered rail infrastructure.
The Governor led his Deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Speaker, of Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt Hon Mudashiru Obasa, members of the State cabinet, reporters and members of the public on a ride from the National Theatre Station to the iconic station in Marina.
The trip took approximately 10 minutes.
For the first time, a rail infrastructure traverses the western part of the State and the Lagos Island. The first passenger trip marked the completion of civil infrastructure work on the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) being constructed by Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).
The completed tracks, spanning 13 kilometres in the first phase, extend from Mile 2 to Marina, covering five stations. The construction started in 2010 under the administration of Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola. It experienced some delays in the succeeding administration, before the current Government continued from 2019.
Sanwo-Olu, who could not hide his excitement about the development, declared the end of construction on the Blue Rail Line project, keeping to the December 2022 deadline. The rail infrastructure, he said, is now ready for commissioning in January by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Governor said the milestone was a culmination of “impactful reforms” initiated in the State’s transport ecosystem, which started at the beginning of the fourth republic under the administration of his predecessor, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Sanwo-Olu described the moment as “historic”, saying Lagos became the first sub-national Government in Africa to fund and deliver a rail system from the State’s balance sheet. The Governor said the construction of the second phase of the Blue Line rail project, which covers 14-kilometre from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko, will be launched immediately after the completion and inauguration of the first phase next month.
He said: “The completion of the infrastructure for the first phase of the Lagos Blue Line rail is a strong testimony of our commitment to building on the legacies of past administrations, and the pioneering vision of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. This milestone in the development of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) is the culmination of several impactful reforms in the transport ecosystem of Lagos, starting in 1999.
“The Tinubu administration developed the Strategic Transport Master Plan (STMP), which laid out the foundation for a network of robust and modern transport infrastructure befitting the 21st century city. The master plan has six rail lines and one monorail, 14 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors, over 20 water routes and a number of major new roads. Central to the implementation of the transport master plan is LAMATA established in 2002.
“Over the last two decades, that masterplan has been faithfully implemented by successive administrations. Today, we are making history with the completion of historic rail line, which is the first phase of the Blue Line. The road to the completion of this project, no doubt, has had an interesting story of delays, which were not due to a lack of enthusiasm or commitment on the part of the State Government. Now, we have put the challenges behind us; from now on, we will focus on the benefits of this project for our people.”
After commissioning, Sanwo-Olu said passenger operations would not commence until the project undergoes necessary test-running and proper security measures are put in place along the rail corridor.
The Governor said the State had already taken the delivery of the three set of wagons that would be used for passenger operations. The completed rail infrastructure, he said, has the capacity to move 250,000 passengers daily. When the second phase is completed, he said the entire project would take 500,000 people daily.
Sanwo-Olu said his administration’s vision for an integrated transport system, as enunciated in the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda, was beginning to be a reality, stressing that the transportation plan of his Government was a multimodal approach that would bring road, rail, and waterways together for seamless mobility.
The Governor acknowledged the effort of his predecessor, ex-Governor Fashola, toward bringing the vision to life. He also thanked the leadership of the Central Bank of Nigeria allowing Lagos access its differentiated cash reserves, which were disbursed through three financial institutions – Access Bank, Sterling Bank and Fidelity Bank – that created an innovative funding model for the Blue Line project.