by Chinedu Brown
The Lagos light rail project is arguably the flagship of all light rail projects in the country, and that it is taking time to come has not removed that fact. But how long it will take to come can no longer be determined, even the state government is tired of giving a time line, because four times they have given completion date and four times they have failed.
The idea of the project was first conceived in the 1980s by the government of Alhaji Lateef Jakande in the second republic, but was scrapped by the government of General Muhammadu Buhari. Former Governor of Lagos, Bola Ahmed Tinubu made a formal announcement about the intention of the government to embark on the project which is to be implemented by the then newly formed Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority.
However in April 2008, the sum of N70 billion was awarded for the construction of the first phase of the project, Okokomaiko – Iddo – Marina Line, with an estimated completion date of 2011. Thus the project was initially meant to be completed in 2011. The project was not delivered on the estimated date of completion due to funds. Governor Fashola who was in charge of the state at the time said in January 2013 while inspecting the project that the first phase will be completed in June 2013. Again the project was not completed for the second time.
Fashola in January 2015 conceded that the light rail project which his administration started will not be completed because he has just 121 days left, he said the project will be completed by his successor, he berated the federal government for not supporting the project.
February 2016 during the 5th Lagos Corporate Assembly, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said at the forum which is for public-private sector engagement that Lagosians will start using the blue line of the light rail project by December 2016. A report by Punch newspaper quoted the governor as saying that “The contractors are actually working on the waters for now and by December this year, the project will start running. So work is seriously ongoing”. A report on Business Day stated that the project can no longer meet the December last year completion date, and that the project will not completed until the middle of 2017.
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But 2017 is almost coming to an end, yet the project has not been delivered. Some of the reasons for the delay in the project had been funds, and recently LAMATA also attributed the delay to Right of Way (RoW) recovery and the relocation of services.