Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, said on Thursday that the state’s light rail project would be completed by December 2016 and would commence operation immediately.
This is coming about six years after the Blue Line rail project was awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Company. It is a 27-kilometre line stretching from Okokomaiko to Marina.
The President, Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, Kashim Ali, also said that the $874m Abuja-Kaduna rail project was at 70 per cent completion and should be ready by the first quarter of 2016. He spoke in Lagos on the sidelines of an event organised by the International Project Finance Association in collaboration with the KPMG.
Ambode said that the state government was determined to complete the light rail project by the end of next year because it would ease the traffic situation in the Lagos metropolis and improve the living standard of the people.
The Blue line was initially slated for completion in 2011 but has suffered delays due to funding problems.
According to the implementing agency, the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, the first phase of the project from Mile 2 to the National Theatre (a distance of seven kilometres) has been completed; while work is ongoing on the second phase from Mile 2 to Marina.
LAMATA said it was part the Lagos Urban Rail Network covering seven major corridors of high commuter traffic demand within and beyond metropolitan Lagos, extending to border areas with states such as Ogun and Oyo.
But Ambode, who told Reuters on Thursday that “by December 2016, the light rail should be delivered,” had earlier said a new funding arrangement was being worked out to speed up work on the project and get it ready next year.
“This project is driven by commercial loans and bonds leaning on the state’s Internally Generated Revenue. That arrangement cannot be sustained. We are negotiating a better package that will deliver the project by the end of 2016,” he said.
The governor also said a tender for the expansion had been opened, and that the rail network would connect the northern and the southern parts of Lagos.
The Red line will be 30km long, running between Marina and Agbado, and will use the existing Nigeria Railway Corporation corridor.
Other lines as proposed by LAMATA are Green, Yellow, Purple, Brown and Orange.
Meanwhile, the state Commissioner for Transport, Dr. Dayo Mobereola, has said that the amount required to construct one kilometre of railway line in Nigeria was double that of other countries.
Mobereola, who was represented by the Technical Adviser, LAMATA, Mr. Oladeinde Frederick, said this was due to the wrong costing of the project by international investors who did not understand the Nigerian environment.
While speaking at the IPFA West Africa seminar themed, ‘Unlocking rapid development of transport infrastructure in Nigeria,’ in Lagos on Thursday, Mobereola explained that other reasons for abandoned infrastructural projects were delayed approvals, changes in project managers and lack of expertise.
For instance, he said Lagos has a different soil texture from other regions, adding that the cost of constructing one kilometre of railway line in the state was $40m, and $20m in other places.