LAGOS State government officials has pledged that they will finally complete the first phase of the ongoing urban light railway project by the end of next year promising that the Blue Rail Line will become operational by December 2020.
Former governor Babatunde Fashola launched the rail project in 2009, involving the construction of two lines that made up a 35km network. Its first phase, known as the Blue Line, was supposed to be completed in 2011 but has been plagued by incessant delays and the resultant spiralling costs.
Yesterday, however, the Lagos State commissioner for information and strategy Gbenga Omotoso, pledged that by December next year, the first phase linking Mile Two with marina will be completed. He added that the plan is part of an aggressive drive by Governor Babajide Sanwoolu to address the chronic transportation problem in the state.
Mr Omotoso added that work was also at advanced stage on the Red Line from Agbado/Iju to Oyingbo, pointing out that all these were being done to boost rail transportation in order to take pressure off the road. He also pointed out that the construction of proposed Fourth Mainland Bridge might soon commence as concessionaires are now showing an interest in the project.
Transport commissioner Dr Fredric Oladeinde added that commercial motorcycle or Okada operators would be restricted to inner roads in the state as part of the overhaul. He stressed that this will come on top of the bus reform project, which involves phasing out yellow buses on a gradual basis.
He added: “We are bent on starting to operate the Blue Line fully in the next two years from Mile Two to Marina and then the concessionaires can take it to Okokomaiko.”
Lagos is the largest city in the world without an underground or metro network and with a population of 22m, this leads to chronic traffic jams. With about half of Nigeria’s 12m cars in Lagos State, mass transit is the biggest challenge the governor will face.