Lagos State has been experiencing a massive population increase in the last two decades. This is mainly due to galloping urbanisation and huge exodus from rural to urban areas. Owing to its teeming population, Lagos State is constantly faced with enormous challenges in terms of infrastructure provision and the need to cope with the increasing demand for transportation.
Until recently, throughout Lagos State, public transport was dominated by the operations of the ‘disorganised’ informal sector that is poorly financed, unregulated, and offering low-capacity services. Their dominance hampers economic development and remarkably reduces the quality of life for citizens as large fleets of vehicles are required to meet demand.
Lagos State Transport service and its partner operating the BRT and other corridors have close to 2,000 functional buses The eventual results from all these are congestion, insecurity, and parking challenges while citizens are increasingly exposed to high levels of environmental pollution.
To address these multifaceted challenges in the state’s transport sector, Lagos is constructing a red line rail system under a public-private partnership (PPP) model.
The Lagos Rail Mass Transit System project is majorly sponsored by the Lagos State Government. The Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) would be handling it on behalf of the state.
Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu recently announced the construction of the 37-km Rail Mass Transit Red Line, which will be from Agbado to Marina, moving more than one million commuters daily.
Sanwo-Olu described the rail project as very germane to the promotion and development of the state, to improve the mobility of the people and enhance their lifestyle.
The rail corridor will be constructed in three phases. The first phase (Agbado-Iddo), which will be completed in 24 months, will be sharing track with the Federal Government’s Lagos-Ibadan Railway Modernisation Project up to Ebute–Metta. It will have its dedicated track from Ebute–Metta to Oyingbo and reduce travel time from about two and a half hours to just thirty-five minutes. The passenger capacity of the first phase is 500,000 daily.
To be fully operational in the last quarter of 2022, the Red Line, a project of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), will have eight train stations, from Agbado to Oyingbo.
In the past, LAMATA had proposed seven lines in the network: Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, Purple, Brown, and Orange.
It is important to understand that incorporating colour science into rail transport is to enhance passenger comfort and travelling experience.
To illustrate lots of things in the railway transport system, a specific colour is used at the side of the track, colour of that route, colour of coaches, etc. The need for colours is to make passengers understand the indications and route of the train among other things. That means trains servicing a particular colour route will have the same colour as the dominant one on its coaches.
When a train arrives at the station, there are many eager people who are could be confused about its route or operations, but by looking at the colour, they can easily identify it with a particular route and operation with time.
In most cities, the most prominent metro lines built are named red lines. The next is blue, while other colours follow. It appears that the train service in Lagos is following this convention or with slight alteration, as the Lagos Red rail-line project is to raise mass transportation capacity in the state, complementing the Blue Line that will be from Okokomaiko to Marina. The Blue Line is at 78 per cent completion.
China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC) is handling the construction of the Blue Line. The contract includes the fundamental design and development of the rail infrastructure. CCECC is constructing the Blue Line in two phases. The first phase includes the National Theatre to Mile 2 section and the second involves the Mile 2 to Okokomaiko section.
Construction of the Blue Line was initially expected to be completed by 2011 but was delayed to 2020 due to funding issues. Alstom also partnered with LAMATA for the completion of Blue Line.
Moving goods by rail is considered the most cost-effective way of transporting freight. Rail haulage is more fuel-efficient than road haulage. Less fuel is needed to transport a tonne of goods by rail than by road, saving both money and greenhouse gas emissions.
With more than 23 million inhabitants, Lagos is one of the largest cities in the world, and its population is growing rapidly, at a rate of nearly 3.2% per annum. The poor condition of road network and the public transport system severely affects the development of the city, as well as the working and living conditions of the population, particularly the most vulnerable.
The rapid growth of private vehicles, combined with reliance on commercial vehicles and motorcycles including Danfo, Taxis, Okada, Keke Marwa and boats have resulted in extreme traffic congestion throughout the city, and poor public transport services.
Petroleum tanker drivers have repeatedly shut down access to key areas like Apapa, the Nigerian port complex, and other neighboring roads due to disagreement with the Lagos State Government while buses under Bus Rapid Transit and LAGBUS systems have become a target of attacks during urban crisis and street protests.
While the Red Line rail project by the Lagos State government is considered a welcome development, there is a growing concern over the capacity of the Sanwo-olu-led administration in Lagos to deliver a world class rail project. The reason for this concern is simply because of previous failed efforts at rail projects in the state.
However, it is believed in most quarters that, with the way and manner, the current administration in Lagos State is going about completing projects that were initiated by its antecedent, the Lagos State government under Sanwo-olu can deliver a world-class project in all ramifications, equally tanking into cognisance issues of safety and durability.
Most industrialised nations have well-developed railway networks spread across their countries. When the British got hold of the Indian sub-continent, among the first things they accomplished was to establish a network of railway systems connecting all economic and strategic locations to help them manage the Indian sub-continent efficiently.
Rail transport has over the years, emerged as one of the most dependable modes of transport in terms of safety. Trains are fast and the least affected by usual weather turbulences like rain or fog, compared to other transport mechanisms. Rail transport is better organised than other mediuma of transport. It has fixed routes and schedules.
Now that Lagos State has commenced a Red Line rail project, it is left for other states in Nigeria to borrow a leaf from the state for the sake of growth and development of the country.