ONE of the landmarks for which the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s government will be remembered is delivery of the Lagos State Government, LASG-owned railway transportation service. It will make Lagos the first state in Nigeria to establish a state railways network.
That accolade should have gone to the regime of Babatunde Raji Fashola, who undertook an ambitious effort at creating the Okokomaiko to the Marina Blue Line.
It involved the breakup of a Federal road corridor, demolition of houses on the project’s right of way, establishment of a trimodal train/Bus Rapid Transit/public motorway system and the construction of train stations. Trains were already placed on the rail lines as though the services were set to begin in 2015.
But for reasons of unhealthy politics, the one-term Akinwunmi Ambode regime abandoned the project, and the suffering public could not fully get the relief they deserve on that axis of the Lagos city-state.
The Sanwo-Olu administration has worked to develop the Red Line from Agbado through Ikeja and Iddo to the Marina. With the arrival of two sets of trains consisting of two brand-new locomotive engines and coaches, the scheduled commencement of the train services in December this year will, hopefully, be actualised early next year.
The already acquired trains for the Red Line alone are capable of moving 1,500 passengers.
When the services are fully activated, the trains alone can move over 500,000 passengers in a day. This will provide a huge relief for the commuting public who have endured daily traffic nightmares on the roads since time immemorial.
It will also provide an alternative for commuters who have been condemned to move by road, thus exerting much pressure on the state’s road and bridge networks.
While we commend the LASG for its commitment to implement this long-awaited dream, we however, call attention to the need to give due attention to the little things that could develop into tragedies if neglected.
The most important are the level crossings. These are the portions where vehicles and people cross the rail lines.
The contractors have failed to take palliative measures to make it easy for motorists to use the level crossings, no matter how deep the gullies are. These crossing must be constructed with concrete surfaces for their seamless use.
Equally importantly, the level crossings must be manned by trained personnel, while members of the public should be sensitised to use them with absolute care to prevent train accidents.
The LASG should regard the Red and Blue Lines as a step towards the ultimate vision of creating a subway or underground railway system. For a city that lays claim to a population of more than 20 million and counting, the transport system will choke up again within a decade.
Lagos must continue developing the state’s transport system to provide multi-modal options for its teeming population.