The race to the completion of the 27-kilometre Lagos Blue Line Rail Mass Transit has begun, with the launch of the last track beam (T-beam) of the rail track on Wednesday.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu flagged off the engineering procedure held at the site of the iconic Marina station of the rail project.
With the laying of the final T-Beam, all difficult civil works standing in the way of the Lagos Blue Rail Line, which started in 2012, have been overcome. The contractor handling the project, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), is now expected to go ahead to set the rail tracks along the alignment and move the project to completion.
Sanwo-Olu, again, directed the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) and the contractor to adhere to the December deadline for the Blue Line project’s completion.
According to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to governor Sanwo-Olum Gbenga Akosile, the Lagos Government will be delivering two rail mass transit projects within the first term of the Sanwo-Olu administration. The Blue Line, which traverses between Mile 2 and Marina, will be operated on Electric Motor Unit (EMU); the 37-kilometre Red Line, from Agbado to Ebute Metta, will operate on Automotive Gas Oil (AGO).
Speaking at the launch of the last T-Beam on the Blue Line, Sanwo-Olu said the achievement signposted his administration’s commitment to bringing succour to Lagosians and give them choices in mass transportation.
The Governor said the rail projects represented the audacity of his administration’s vision to deliver a robust integrated transit system as encapsulated in the Traffic Management and Transportation pillar of his Government’s T.H.E.M.E.S. development agenda.
He said: “Today’s final T-beam launch indicates that we are gradually inching to the completion of the civil infrastructure for the first phase of the Blue Line traversing from Mile 2 to Marina. The engineering work today completes a total of 1,967 piles foundation, while we have also completed three 306 platforms, 310 piers, 267 cover beams and the erection of 984 T-beams.
“We are not just making promises; people are beginning to see for themselves that all the milestones and the difficult tasks we are meant to achieve to ensure operation of the Blue Line are being achieved. The Marina Station, which is the iconic terminal for the Blue Line, will be completed within two-and-half months. I am restating here that we will formally complete this Blue Line before December 31, 2022.”
The Governor said the two sets of EMU coaches already procured for the Blue Line operations would arrive in Lagos from China before the end of October. He said the rail line would be test run immediately after completion, while passenger movement would start within the first quarter of 2023.
Sanwo-Olu said the construction of the second phase of the Blue Line project would commence after the start of operation, which would extend the rail project from Mile 2 to Okokomaiko.
He said Blue Line stations would be built at Festac, Alakija, Trade Fair, Volkswagen, LASU and Okokomaiko. The Governor disclosed that talks were being held with the Ogun State Government for possible extension of the rail line to Agbara.
He said: “The second phase of the Blue Line project will be an easy infrastructure to develop because the marked alignment for stations and tracks are largely at grid level. While we are at this, the Red Line is also on the way. This is a start-and-end project for our administration, with about seven stations concurrently being built. This will redefine mass transportation in Lagos.
“To our citizens, I say the Blue Line is for real and you will ride on it in no distant future. For the Doubting Thomases and people that do not like our face, their eyes cannot disbelieve in the infrastructure we are bequeathing to the citizens of our State. They cannot disbelieve in our bold effort and commitment to improve mobility and deliver transport infrastructure that brings ease to our people.”
LAMATA Managing Director, Engr. Abimbola Akinajo, said the first 13-kilometre stretch of the Blue Line construction was divided into four phases to enable the government fund the project from its internally generated revenue.
To get to the current status, she said the construction work experienced disturbances and delays in the relocation of submarine cables, submarine natural gas pipelines, and removal of underground shipwrecks.
“Just as we are laying the final T-beam for the rail tracks, we are also currently retrofitting the train stations at Mile 2, Alaba, Iganmu and National Theatre with light in readiness for passenger operation in the first quarter of 2023,” Akinajo said.
CCECC chairman, Mr. Liu Wei Min, described the event as the most significant level of the project.
He said: “We express our sincere gratitude to the present administration under the leadership of Mr. Sanwo-Olu in reaching this milestone. We will continue to work to meet the ultimate target in delivering the entire project with high standards and quality.”
The T-beam laying event was also attended by Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Lagos, Mr Chu Mao ming.