.Launches last T-beam, project reaches last lap

.To operate 500,000 passengers daily capacity
.Hands over staff flats to NRC for red-line project

By Olasunkanmi Akoni

Lagos State Governor, Babjide Sanwo-Olu has expressed assurance that the 27 kilometre Lagos Rail Mass Transit, LRMT, Blue Line project from Okokomaiko to Marina would be operating full passenger services in the first quarter of 2023 in the state.

Sanwo-Olu gave the assurance, yesterday, during the final launch of the last T Beam of the rail project at Marina, Lagos Island. The Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, LAMATA, Engr. Mrs. Abimbola Akinajo accompanied the governor at the official launch.

According to the governor, ““Each of our promises, each of things we have committed to Lagosians this administration will continue to meet those deadlines.

“So today, the fact that we are launching the final T-beams, signpost our commitment that we will meet and deliver the blue rail line on schedule for citizens.

“Secondly, it’s a signpost that this is the end of the parting infrastructure for the blue rail line. Contractor has kept its words with us and by the end of this August we will see the completion of the T-beams.

“Today completes a total of 1,967 pile foundation, completed 306 platforms, 310 peers for the project, 267 over-beams, we now have one more to complete 984 T beams.

“We are on the journey of ensuring implementation of projects and not just making promises. We are beginning to see that all the milestones and the difficult things meant to cross to ensure smooth operations starts on blue line are achieved.”

The phase 1from Mile-2 to Marina which passes Alaba, Igamu, National Art Theatre, and Marina train stations are almost completed. The Marina stations, which is the iconic station for the blue line will be completed within the next two months.

We are pushing that we formally complete the blue line before 31 of December 2022. For the people who do not like our face they cannot disbelief what we have done, the infrastructure we are passing to our residents.

“The coaches for the passengers are on their way from China to Nigeria. We are hoping two brand new sets will arrive the country before the end of October.

“However, we will be doing testing in December and real passengers movement will start by the first quarter of 2023 will start operations.

“The phase 2, will take the construction from Mile2 to Okokomaiko with stations at Festac, Alakija, Trade Fair, Volkswagen, LASU, and finally at Okokomaiko. We are in conversation with Ogun State Government to extend to Agbara. Blue ine is real.

“The Red line, started by our administration is also on its way and by and the grace of God will be completed before we finished our first term.”

Constraints of project

Akinajo, earlier, noted that for ease of implementation, government divided the construction into phases. The first 13-kilometre stretch from Mile 2 to Marina, which we are currently constructing, was divided into four phases to enable government fund their construction since funding was mainly from its internally generated revenue.

“I wish to place on record that the construction of the Blue line has been one of the most difficult projects the Lagos State Government has embarked upon given the many challenges we have had to overcome.

“To get to this point, we have had disturbances and delays in the relocation of submarine cables, submarine natural gas pipelines, and removal of underground ship wreckages. The submarine geological conditions are complex, thus making construction in the lagoon extremely difficult.

“On a number of times, barges have collided with the trestle supporting our construction activities while the outbreak of Covid19 epidemic, and the long transportation cycle of imported equipment and materials have contributed to delays in the prompt completion of the rail project.”

Completion level

Akinajo, stressed that the final T beam launch,” indicates that we are gradually inching to the completion of the civil infrastructure for the first four phases of the Blue line from Mile 2 to Marina.

To get to the current point, the contractor hade completed 1967 pile foundations, 306 platforms, 310 piers, 267 cover beams, fabrication and erection of 984 T beams.

“We are currently, retrofitting the train stations at Mile 2, Alaba, Iganmu and National Theatre in readiness for passenger operation in the first quarter of 2023,” she corroborated the governor’s statement.

When operational, Cowry Card will be used as the payment option for rail services. “The essence is to ensure that we have a single payment platform for all regulated public transport services in Lagos State,” Akinajo stated.

She commended Mr. Governor for allowing LAMATA to be part of his vision for a robust integrated transit system for residents as encapsulated in the Traffic Management and Transportation pillar of the T.H.E.M.E.S. development agenda.

“Let me assure you sir, on behalf of our team in LAMATA and the contractor that we shall deliver this project by the last quarter of this year in order for passenger operation to commence early in 2023.”

In another development, Akinajo has expressed assurance that with six rail lines, one monorail, 14 Bus Rapid Transit, BRT, corridor and over 20 water routes in the offing, will become foreign direct investment paradise in Lagos.

“Our strategic transport master plan provides for six rail lines and one monorail, 14 BRT routes and over 20 water routes. I can assure Lagosians that before long, one form of transport mode will get to your area to cater to your mobility needs and drive the growth of Lagos,” Akinajo stated

She spoke at the handing over of three blocks of flats to the Nigeria Railway Corporation, NRC,

The state government as part of the negotiation for co-sharing the NRC’s rail track and building the infrastructure for LRMT, Red Line rail project had acquired the Corporation’s staff quarters at Ikeja where the Ikeja train station is currently being built with a promise to replace the staff quarters at another location close to their station.

The new staff quarters made up of three blocks containing 16 units of two-bedroom flats and four units of one-bedroom flats are located on Shiaba Street around the Babatunde Raji Fashola Train Station at Agege.

Akinajo, explained; “With this handover of the buildings, it is very clear that Sanwo-Olu’s administration is committed to leaving Lagosians with a transport legacy that generations yet unborn will come to appreciate. Transportation is very essential to our civilisation.

“A good integrated transportation system gives citizens the transport options for their mobility. This is what this administration is committed to bequeathing to Lagosians,” she added

Akinajo, commended the Federal Ministry of Transport and the NRC for their cooperation to see the Red line gradually inching to completion.

Managing Director of NRC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria, thanked the Lagos State Government for keeping its promise to rebuild the acquired staff quarter at another location and close to NRC’s facility, saying “we thank the Lagos State Government for this privilege, for letting us (NRC) and LAMATA leave this legacy.”

He described LAMATA and NRC as one family, stating “we pursue the same goal, which is to make transportation easy and make commerce within the environs boom.”

He recalled his earlier fears on the challenge that may come up with the national rail and the subnational government rail cohabiting on the same track but said with improved signaling system, “we agreed to share the tracks.”

Okhiria, assured the state government of its continued cooperation and warned allotees not to sublet any part of the building or deface the aesthetics of the environment.

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