By Olasunkanmi Akoni
IF the promise of the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Peter Carter, is anything to go by, British investors will soon key into the multi-billion naira Lagos Blue Line (Okokomaiko-Marina) Rail Project. This is in addition to the support of the British Government via the Department for International Development (DFID).
Lagos Blue Line is one of the seven rail projects planned for the city and it is one of the lines that will constitute the spine of the city rail network. It is being implemented on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model with the public sector leading the provision of infrastructure while the private sector, under a concession agreement, will be responsible for operations and maintenance. On completion, it is expected to move more than 400,000 passengers daily.
The rail project which is being constructed in phases was designed to significantly reduce congestion along the Lagos-Badagry corridor, improve public transport provision and use and stimulate development along the axis.
Carter gave the assurance during a visit to the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority LAMATA and a tour of the rail project under construction. Commending the state government on the project, the envoy promised to bring to the attention of British investors opportunities available in Lagos, especially in the transport sector.
His words: “One of the things I have learnt from this visit is that there are a lot of opportunities for British companies to get involved here. This is the message I will take away with the aim of encouraging British companies to look seriously at this project and the opportunities more widely in the city of Lagos.”
He expressed delight at the pace of work on the light rail describing it as an impressive project “the engineering behind it, the strategic plan, which underpins it and the expectation that this is going to help residents move around the city more easily and perhaps crucially take traffic off the road.”
Carter also promised that the British Government would continue to support developmental projects which would positively impact on citizens of developing countries to make them more productive for the benefit of their economy.
He disclosed that the British Government had been making contributions behind the scene to the rail project. “In terms of British involvement, we are already involved through the Department for International Development. We make significant contributions behind the scene through the financing of the provision of technical expertise,” he stated.
The Director of Public Transport, LAMATA, Engr. Gbenga Dairo, who conducted Carter round the project, said the state government was already considering extending the construction from the National Theatre to Marina to bring the total length constructed during the current phase to about 11 kilometres. The Blue Line rail project will cover a distance of 27 kilometres all together at completion.