The Blue Line Rail project is the flagship transport project of the Lagos state government. Blue Line project is a 27-kilometre rail route designed to run from Okokomaiko eastwards to Mile 2, and then proceeds to Marina via Ijora.
A major part of the rail alignment runs in the middle of the ongoing Lagos Badagry Expressway (LBE) road expansion development from Okokomaiko to Iganmu before ascending on an elevated railway bridge to the National Theatre, and proceeds via Ijora to Marina. Construction of the Theatre to Marina is a 5.5 km elevated rail section consisting of a terminal station at Marina, bridge works and track works.
The Blue Line Rail project was awarded through an international competitive bidding and won by China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), subsidiary of China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC).
The project has over the year rekindled hope of better transport experience when it finally commenced operations. However, the project has been through ups and down in its implementation. As a result, and of late, a lot of untruths had been peddled about the project. It is therefore germane to set the record straight.
The Blue Rail line is said to have been awarded at the contract sum of $182 million as against $1.2 billion advertised by the state government as the cost of the project. Those who made the outrageous claim allegedly relied on a document attributed to CRCC, the parent company of CCECC.
The report also alluded to the fact that the contract of RMB1.256 billion ($182 million) was for both blue and red-light rail projects. Instructively, the Lagos state government had awarded three contracts for the survey and design of the Blue and Red Rail lines for implementation respectively in 2009 and Blue Line phase 2A for the construction of earthwork, ballast, sleepers and tracks for one kilometre and Iganmu Station between Iganmu to Mile 2 at the cost of $182 million.
This was captured in the CRCC’s report in 2010 and is now being falsely assumed as the cost of implementing the two rail lines. The Lagos state government had intended to implement the red line as the first rail line but due to the unavailability of the corridor as a result of the constraints contained in the railway Act for using the corridor, it decided to concentrate efforts on the blue line. The survey and design for the red line was therefore stepped down.
The project’s global cost of about $1.17 billion as contained in the Lagos state government document on the rail project is the verified project cost of the blue line rail project as at the time it was approved in 2009. The project includes construction of the civil works particularly fixed infrastructure; rolling stocks, signalling and telecommunication, operational control centre (OCC), fare collection system, maintenance depot and equipment, power generation and supply, fencing and security of entire alignment which are currently on-going. The government has continued to implement the rail project within the global contract cost.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Lagos state government has successfully completed the survey, mobilisation and detailed design of the 27-kilometre blue line rail project, completed all civil infrastructure works from Mile 2 to National Theatre which includes the construction of rail bridge, stabling yard, Pway track and completed four railway stations namely Mile2, Alaba, Iganmu and National and is currently constructing the bridge crossing the lagoon from National Theatre to Marina.
The project has over the year rekindled hope of better transport experience when it finally commenced operations. However, the project has been through ups and down in its implementation. As a result, and of late, a lot of untruths had been peddled about the project. It is therefore germane to set the record straight
On the comparison of the blue rail line with the Addis Ababa light rail project, it must be stated that rail construction worldwide is not compared on the basis of like-for-like because of difference in terrain (swamp, lagoon, removal of ship wreckages), design of project (elevated sections and stations), infrastructure, technology (UIC60 tracks manufactured to European standard), compensation as construction passes through already built up environment, third party issues and taxation among others. The project is an urban rail project and this means that a lot of issues ranging from acquisition, payment of compensation and resettlement of project affected persons would have to be taken care of to ensure a smooth sail.
For instance, about a third of the 27-kilometre blue line rail project is elevated, crossing swampy terrain and the Lagos lagoon where a lot relocation, reconstruction and resettlements were involved. Construction within the swampy terrain and the lagoon entails that some piers foundation would go down between 40 and 88 metres.
On the claim that a loan for the construction of the project was guaranteed by the World Bank, the Lagos state government, for the umpteenth time, states clearly that it has not received any loan to support the construction of the blue line rail project.
While government is committed to completing the project, we appeal to members of the public to be wary of those bent on sowing the seed of discord through unsubstantiated allegations of improper conduct in its award and implementation.
The Lagos state government appreciates the concerns raised by well-meaning Nigerians on the need to set the record straight on the project. Government has over the years spent internally generated revenue to fund the construction of the rail project without recourse to borrowing.
With the determination of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration to tackle traffic congestion and improve transportation, the rail project is set to breathe fresh breath of air to bring the project to passenger operation in the life of this administration. The Lagos state government will continue to show enough commitments and strength in ensuring that Lagosian travel in comfort, at affordable fare and reduced travel time.
Kolawole Ojelabi is an assistant director of corporate communication in Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA)
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