by Opeoluwa Quadri
It is supposed to be the biggest light rail project in the country, it is particularly interesting because, it is sponsored by the Lagos state government.
Reputed to cost about $1.2 billion, the Lagos Light Rail Project is the Flagship of rail projects in the country. The project perhaps motivated other states to embark on such in their states, states like Kano, Rivers and Ogun are also working on Light rail projects in their respective states. Yet the Lagos light rail project is yet to be born.
It has been plagued by funds, and the extent to which work has gone is the extent to which the state has been able to secure funds to facilitate the project, the Lagos state government has secured some funds from the World Bank for the project, yet the project still stalls due to lack of enough funds to complete the project.
The Idea of the project was first conceived in the 1980s by the Government of Alhaji Lateef Jakande in the second republic. The Initial Metro line was scrapped in 1985 by the military government of General Muhammadu Buhari at a loss of over $78 million to the Lagos tax payers. The Idea was later revived by Governor Bola Tinubu in the early 20002 with a formal announcement of its construction in December 2003. This initial $135 million proposal was part of the greater Lagos Urban Transportation Project to be implemented by the newly formed Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).
In April 2008, Lagos State government approved the sum of N70 billion for the construction of the first phase, Okokomaiko-Iddo-Marina Line with an estimated completion date of 2011. The project however suffered delay due to funds. As a result of this, the former governor, Babatunde Fashola said in January 2013 while inspecting the project that the first phase would be completed in June 2013, but the project was not completed.
However in January 2015, Governor Babatunde Fashola said the Lagos Light Rail Project which his administration started in 2006 would not be completed during his tenure because he has just 121 days left, he said the project would be completed by his successor , he blamed the federal government for not supporting the project.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode however said in Febuary 2016 during the 5th Lagos Corporate Assembly, a forum for public-private sector engagement that Lagosians will start using the blue line of the light rail project by December 2016. According to a report by punch, the governor said 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.” There was however a report on Business Day that the project can no longer meet the December 2016 completion date, and that the project will not be completed until the middle of 2017.
As of November 2016, only 16 km of the 27 km Blue Line had been completed. Yet there are no signs that the project would meet up with the deadline of middle of 2017.
Work has stopped for more than six months, and even up till this moment, nothing has been done.
Is the Lagos light rail project jinxed? This is a project that Lagos cannot afford to abandon, It’s better it was not started than to be abandoned.