Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu has said the Red and Blue rail line projects would be ready for use by the first quarter of 2023.
Sanwo-Olu, who inspected the project sites yesterday, expressed satisfaction with the level of work done. According to him, the contractors are happy to do the job because the government has met its obligations to them.
The sites visited were Ikeja, Yaba, Ebute-Metta, Oyingbo and Marina.
The governor also said students of the Lagos State University (LASU); University of Lagos (UNILAG) and Yaba College of Technology (YABATECH) would have the opportunity to get hands-on experience because of the government’s agreement with the contractors on proper skills transfer.
He said: “We are excited because of the number of Nigerians working here. I think here in Marina alone, we have over 1,000 workers.
“Part of the things we have been telling our contractors is that we need to have proper skills transfer. We will be working with LASU, UNILAG and Yabatech so our students of Engineering will have a feel of what rail construction is all about.
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“Our contract will take them as interns so they will see how things are done in real time when it comes to road, bridge and rail construction.
“There are few hiccups but we believe we will surmount them. So we are still on track, and by the last quarter of 2022 or first quarter of 2023, you will begin to see trains moving on these two corridors.
“We started our journey midway from the Ikeja iconic station where we saw the construction of the overpass which will ease vehicular movement.
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“Leaving Ikeja, we couldn’t take a detour into Mushin so we went straight to Yaba where we saw the overpass which will cross into Tejuoso. The station there is also going on as scheduled.
“From there, we went to Ebute-Metta and saw the station and overpass, making it the third. It’s also advancing well.
“And you must know that the Red Line will terminate at Ebute-Metta but there will be an extension up to Iddo.
“After this, we crossed to the Blue Line. We have built a sea wall to preserve the water bed in that area. Work is also going on as scheduled.
“Finally is the very iconic and unique Marina Station, which is an elevated station. The decking work has started, and there is also a pedestrian walk for people with disabilities.
“Underneath will be bus stations for BRT and First and the Last line buses. There will also be ferry services adjoining the Marina Station, which will move up to the State House. That is the summary of the massive architecture that is going on.”
Recall that the Blue line from Okokomaiko Lagos West will connect Mile 2 through Orile, elevated to pass the National Arts Theatre, then sea crossing, and end up in Marina.
It was started by the Babatunde Fashola-led administration in 2010. The Red Rail Line in Lagos Central to cross into Lagos West was conceived by the Sanwo-Olu administration.
Railway revitalisation to cost $37.8bn, says Amaechi
Meanwhile, a total of $37.8 billion would be spent on the revitalisation and expansion of six major rail networks in Nigeria by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the Minister of Transportation Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has said.
Amaechi spoke at the 2021 annual public lecture of the Department of Economics, University of Lagos, which was held at the J.F Ade Ajayi Auditorium, on Friday.
Speaking on the topic: Nigeria’s National Rail Transport Project: Network, Financing, Challenges and the Way Forward, Amaechi said when the entire six national Rail networks are fully on stream, Nigerians would have spent $37.8 billion.
The minister explained that of this sum, the administration has only obtained a $500 million loan with which it wrapped up the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge project.
Amaechi observed that though it is becoming increasingly difficult to access funds, yet without transportation there may not be any economy.
Breaking up the rail networks Amaechi said while Lagos-Calabar, for which the government is yet seeking funding would consume $11.5 billion, the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge which has been delivered cost $2 billion, while Ibadan -Kano would cost $5.3 billion.
Other networks being worked upon are: the construction of the Port Harcourt -Maiduguri narrow gauge $3.3 billion, while the standard gauge of the same route which President Muhammadu Buhari has approved has $12.2 billion, for which funds are being sought, while the central line of Abuja-Itakpe to the sea would gulp $3.9 billion.
He said though for most of these projects, he has graciously secured the presidential approval, none is yet to take off because of lack of funds.
The minister explained that railway construction and operations have the potential to create employment and take millions of Nigerians out of poverty.
He said railway is a key factor in the growth of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Amaechi who observed that so much is being done to reposition the railway system and make it a catalyst for efficient logistics said most of the constructions are driven purely by economic factors, adding that he would continue to resist political pressures in the citing you of railway projects and construction of rail lines whether narrow or standard gauge.
Amaechi who said railway is driven more by freight rather than passenger services said Nigeria does not have the economic activity to carry connecting many of the nation’s cities by standard gauge rail.
“Our total tonnage per annum is 30 million metric tonnes. This can be evacuated within a month by the Nigerian Railway, adding that if Nigerians wanted better service, they should increase their production.
In the same manner, if I discover increased and sustained demand for faster trains, I would not hesitate to provide it, but right now, our activity can only adequately be catered for by a 150km rail service.”
Amaechi disclosed that the Nigerian Railway Corporation would be unbundled with three companies coming out of the present corporation.
While a company to be known as Infraco (Infrastructure company) would be in charge of providing infrastructure, especially the fixed assets, the NRC would evolve into an operations company, while the third company would be a purely commercial entity that would be in charge of the marketing operations of the railway activities.