Jakande, Tinubu’s Vision Gets Life
In New Lagos Rail Transport
BY ALPHONSUS N. EFFI
The Lagos State Government has declared its train service project available at last, under the watch of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, greater Lagos is achievable, Lagosians were surprised when President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday 24th, 2023 inaugurated the first phase of the Blue Rail Line in Lagos.
During the official launch and opening the president, joined other top government officials in a maiden ride from the Marina Station to the National Theatre in the Iganmu area of the state.
The governor of the state, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in his remarks said, “This iconic Marina Station would be the largest and busiest in Africa. It can process about 450 passengers per minute, meaning that in an hour this station can process about 25,000 passengers.”
This feat has officially launched Lagos into the long-awaited megacity in Nigeria and Africa at large. Though this achievement has been in the pipeline since the era of the erstwhile Lagos State governor, the late Lateef Jakande and it has passed through the auspices of several governors who have made positive impacts in the state.
Creekvibes news magazine recalled in its 5th edition (The Metamorphosis of the Nigeria Railway Corporation), that the railway development in Nigeria was driven by the private interest which was later taken over by the then colonial government to make rail transportation easy, for cheap movement of bulk goods from the hinterlands to the seaports.
The first rail gauge was the Lagos-Ibadan rail line with a measurement of 193 KM which was built in 1898 and was completed in 1901. Since then, railway construction has experienced many extensions, like
Ibadan to Jebba 295 KM, 1907 to 1911.
Jebba to Minna 255 KM, 1901 to 1915
Port Harcourt to Enugu 243 KM, 1914 to 1916.
Enugu to Makurdi, 1916 to 1924,
Kaduna to Kafanchan 176 KM, 1927, and
Kafachan to Jos 101 Km. 1924 to 1927.
The railway became an independent entity created by an Act on October 1st, 1955 known as the Act Parliament-Nigerian Railway Corporation with an objective majorly on goods and passenger carriage in such a way that will give value to passengers, meet operational costs, and improve market share including quality of service, the safety of operations and ultimately efficiency. It is designed also to enhance trade for rail users, commerce, industries and the public.
The late Jakande was the action governor who promised that within 36 months, the metro line will be ready. He paid the International Consortium a whomping sum of 76 million dollars for the initial mobilization and later paid N689m, and he promised that by July 1986, the Metro line will be ready for operations.
Conversely, this effort/dream was thwarted by the December, 31st 1983 coup led by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari who is today’s civilian President. It’s like measuring up with destiny, the same government that affected the commencement of Lagos light rails is also the government witnessing the reawakening and commissioning of the rail project in Lagos State.
It is pertinent at this juncture to mention that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s government in Lagos, came up again with the idea of the Light rail system, while his successor Raji Fashola started the project and almost completed it, but left it for another successor, Akinwunmi Ambode who did not concentrate on the project but focused on the development of the bus system (mass-transit), where he tried to improve with pragmatic efforts.
As a result of the easy movement of goods and services in the Lagos metropolis for now, as time goes on, for future development, the rail system will enhance regional integration whereby the rail, will be linked to other neighbouring Yoruba states like Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, and others. Goods like farm products, and industrial goods among others will be conveyed from one region to the other. Hence, helping employment opportunities, production, human and capital flight. This type of project ideally influences other regions or states to develop and also to keep the progressive competition flying.
This to a large extent will make politicians in the polity see the beauty and possibility of restructuring that will help the economics of states to be less dependent on government at the central, to develop their state and discourage government monopoly like the famous NRC act of 1955 (as amended in 1990). This new rail system of Lagos State achieved under the regime of Gov Babajide Sanwo-Olu, is a major pointer for other states to emulate.
The Lagos State government, through the internal light rail system, has thrown a challenge to their political counterparts all over the Country, to realize that innovations of this nature are possible and can even enhance the hope that restructuring in Nigeria is a realism.
Moment President of the Federal Reublic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari @MBuhari arrives at the Marina Train Station for the commissioning of the Blue Rail (Marina to Mile 2) & Groundbreaking of the Phase 2 (Mile 2 to Okoto)#BlueLinRail #PMBInLagos #LekkiDeepSeaPort pic.twitter.com/UIZvaop5ZM— LagosGist (@LagosGistNG) January 24, 2023