Millions of residents of Lagos looking to ride in the unfolding Lagos Blue Line rail system have additional four more years to see their dream come true, if at all.
This is because the Lagos State Government is now considering 2022 as the new completion date and flag off of commercial operations of the rail system, from Mile 2 to Marina (CMS) (just the first phase of the project) , BusinessDay can authoritatively report.
It was learnt that the state government is at the verge of signing a deal with a foreign firm to co-fund the completion of technical and electrical aspects components of the light rail system after which the first phase operations would begin in 2022.
“That is the plan; that is the way it will go and I don’t see anything upsetting it this time around,” a source who craved anonymity, told BusinessDay, on Thursday, adding that the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode is already studying documents relating to the expected agreement to be signed any moment from now. “Once the governor gives his approval, that’s it,” the source added.
If Governor Akinwunmi Ambode wins his second term bid, it means that the rail system will start rolling one year to his exiting power in 2023.
The Blue Line rail system whose cost was put at $1.2 billion and currently undergoing construction on the Lagos-Badagry corridor is one of the six rail lines and one mono rail captured under the Lagos strategic public transportation master plan developed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), a World Bank-assisted agency of the state government, established by the former governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Other rail lines captured in the transportation master plan and identified by colours are Red, Yellow, Brown, Green and a mono rail. Other modes also incorporated in the master plan to cater to the growing population of the mega city are 14 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) routes, 21 waterways, and three cable car lines which forms the Lagos intermodal transpiration system. However, implementation has been and remains a challenge, as private investors are yet to fully key in and finance the projects.
The $1.2 billion 27.5km Blue Line rail project for example has been delayed as government complains of paucity of funds, and difficulty associated with the terrain which slows down construction work.
The 27.5 Blue Line rail (Okokomaiko to Marina on Lagos Island) was awarded in August 2009 and was meant to be delivered in 36 months (by August 2012). It has, however, suffered setbacks and undue delays due to what concerned authorities attribute to funding challenge, difficult terrains slowing down construction work, and sourcing for a credible concessioner who will run the system for a period of 30 years.
The first phase of the construction covering seven kilometres from Mile 2 to the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, has been completed while the second phase, National Theatre to CMS being constructed on an elevated platform across the lagoon, covering a distance of five kilometres, is slowing progressing.
Akinyemi Ashade, the state commissioner for finance had recently told BusinessDay that there was an initial failure to factor in all necessary components required to construct and complete the rail system, the reason, according to him, that necessitated the engagement of a consultant by the current administration, to work around those components that were left out, without which the rail system would not roll even if physical construction of the infrastructure was completed.
According to Ashade, the report of the consultant would aid the reappraisal of the project as it touches critical technical areas that were not well spelt out, including electrical and rolling stocks.
BusinessDay had reported that the state government was in talks with Transport for London (Tfl), to reassess critical enablers for the light rail system including the rolling stock and electrical components without which the system cannot run.
Transport for London manages the transport system in Greater London, England. The body which had a budget of £11.5 billion in 2015 has responsibility for London’s network of principal road routes and various rail networks including the London Underground, London Overground, Docklands