By Uche Nnadozie
It was not until 2017 that the Federal Government approved the right of way for the Red Line rail construction project in Lagos state.
The line which runs from the Lagos west zone to the central zone is parallel to the Federal Government owned standard gauge line which runs between the nation’s commercial city and Ibadan, Oyo State (the line will continue through Osun, Kwara, Niger, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina and Niger Republic).
Remarkably, President Muhammadu Buhari started and completed a regular inter-state train service between Lagos and Oyo, through Ogun. This service is comparable to any of its kind around the world.
In time past when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held sway at the national level, the approval to use the same corridor for the intra-city Lagos project was stalled. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his successors from the PDP refused to allow Lagos make progress.
It is not surprising that the Lagos rail revolution is happening at the same time that President Buhari is constructing and deploying rail services across the land.
Efforts to introduce a metro line for the growing Lagos mass by the civilian administration of Alhaji Lateef Jakande in the late 1970s were truncated when the military stormed into power on new year eve of 1984. The plan for an integrated metro rail project however came back to life after the election of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in 1999. The corridors are not restricted to Blue and Red lines, there are four others that will follow in the near future.
With the formation of the Lagos Area Metropolitan Transport Agency (LAMATA), the foundation upon which future development of infrastructure and structure to get Lagosians moving through trains was birthed.
Therefore, it is heartwarming to see that a little over five years after that approval, the Agbado to Oyingbo (and later CMS) corridor – the Blue line – is almost ready.
The frenetic speed with which LAMATA and their contractors are handling the project shows the seriousness the state government attaches to it as part of many solutions to commuting problems in the most populated state in the country.
It was President Buhari that ensured the approval, two years after he assumed office.
For the Blue line, the first phase (CMS to Mile 2) of which Buhari is commissioning, while also flagging off the second phase (Mile 2 to Okokomaiko), it is a testament to how a Federal Government should collaborate with states for viable, people-oriented projects.
Train in a congested city like Lagos has become a necessity rather than luxury. But being a city of panache and flamboyance, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu has added some style in the procurement of rolling stocks.
The coaches are not just beautiful outwardly, they are functionally comfortable and stylish inside.
What’s more, Lagosians who live along Lagos-Badagry corridor are in for a pleasure ride without any whiff of traffic.
This has become a reality as a result of the support and encouragement by the Buhari administration. The Central Bank donated N60 billion, with at least N45 billion of that sum already released.
It’s only a Buhari that can be this supportive to projects of this magnitude. This is even as being in the same party – the All Progressives Congress (APC) – has been of tremendous assistance. More should be expected when Nigerians vote former governor of the state Asiwaju Tinubu as president in February. The synergy to do better collaborations would be massive.
As the state government celebrates the Blue line with President Buhari’s presence, here’s hoping that he will be back to commission the Red line before he hands over in May.