16 years after; with an annual budget averaging N300bn per annum; with billions of naira of indebtedness; after raising a number of bonds from the debt market, it is shameful that Lagos has still not able to successfully complete a light rail system to ease the transportation burden within the state’s metropolis – well Economist only a few days ago reports that Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has beaten Lagos to Africa’s first metro [outside of South Africa]:
The open line runs 17km (11 miles) from industrial areas in the south of Addis Ababa to the centre; a second east-to-west line of the same length is still being built. The two lines, which have their own dedicated power grid, will be able to carry 60,000 passengers per hour when fully operational. Fares are 6 Ethiopian birr ($0.27) [about N40] per ride.
You would recall that “Lagos’ twin brother, Port Harcourt” has also mouthed this project for years – as both Governors – Fashola and Amaechi kept using these projects to score political points all over the place even as their media handlers kept celebrating these projects as though “the projects were completed and already being used by commuters” – at the end of the day, both projects, in both states have practically been abandoned despite the billions of dollars sank into them – coupled with the indebtedness these states were plunged into specifically for the purposes of completing these projects – and indeed, both projects became a large part of the successes the APC claimed it had accomplished at the state levels – that the party were going to replicate when they got to Abuja – I will of course save the conversation around the budgets executed for these projects for another day.
Fashola has at several times claimed victory regarding this project and at other times found ways [as always] to blame the Federal Government [of course led by the PDP at the time] for the non-completion of the Lagos light rail project – I will take you through three instances thus:
Instance One: July 15, 2012:
In this piece, it was reported that:
The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said that the first eight kilometres of the project would be completed this year with about 90 per cent of its structural work already completed.
While the blue line, costing $1.2bn, is being funded entirely by the state government; the red line project will be executed through a concession arrangement.
Already, the state government is discussing with interested investors on the construction and running of the 30km-long line.
External Relations Specialist, LAMATA, Mr. Kolawole Ojelabi, also confirmed the handing over of the track technically to the state government for the second leg of the light rail project.
He was, however, silent on the commencement date for the construction work on the project.
The red line is to operate with 12-car trains for five years, going by the proposal. More cars will be added according to demand. The maximum number of cars will, however, be limited to 16 on a train.
The 16-car trains will be 352m long and the 12-car trains will be 264m long. The cars will accommodate 300 passengers each.
It is expected to convey an average of 400,000 passengers daily, according to the state government.
The project will also generate over 8,000 jobs through direct and indirect employment opportunities.
Meanwhile, thousands of buildings will be demolished along the 30km railway corridor from Marina to Agbado to pave the way for the construction of the five tracks.
Instance Two: October 21, 2012:
In this piece, it was reported:
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, says the red line light rail project has not commenced because the Federal Government has failed to respond to a request by the state government to allow it use the Federal Government’s right of way
Instance Three: September 12, 2014
It was reported here that:
The delay in the completion of the light rail project has been attributed to dearth of funds, complications in the concessionaire’s terms of agreement and issues relating to the right of way of the project.
A source in the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), who does not want his name mentioned, told The Nation that though its speed might be slow, the project is still performing well in relation to the fund available.
He said there is no truth in the rumours making the rounds that the project is being funded by the World Bank, adding that the light rail project is wholly funded by the state’s internally generated revenue.
The light rail project, as part of the integrated public transportation system being managed by LAMATA, is envisioned to consist of seven lines. However even the initial construction of the first planned two lines have suffered delays.
Governor Babatunde Fashola who inspected the project last Wednesday, lamented the project’s progress.
He was, however, optimistic of its completion and expressed satisfaction on its progress. The governor ,who identified funding as part of the challenges of the project, said the project would have been completed in another 12 months. He, however, failed to give a new timeline for its completion.
The source said though the large spectrum of the project is still ongoing, government could go ahead and commission the National Theatre to Mile 2 route as that is substantially ready. “Getting it (the project) ready up to Marina is where we still face some hitches,” the source said.
He said the pace of work would have been much faster, if the Federal Government had supported the state in financing the project as part of its holistic national blueprint on public sector transportation.
The light rail project has been a tortuous journey for the state’s transportation sector. First conceived in 1981, by the Second Republic Governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, the project was scrapped in 1985 by the Military headed by Muhammadu Buhari at a loss of over $78 million to the Lagos tax payers.
The idea was revived by former Governor Bola Tinubu in 2000, with a formal announcement of its construction in December 2003. The initial $135 million proposal was part of the greater Lagos Urban Transportation Project to be implemented by then newly formed Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA). LAMATA initially concentrated on developing a Bus Rapid Transit system (BRT) before embarking on the rail project, which it supposed to flag-off with the blue line and the red line.
The blue line, being built by China Civil Engineering Construction Company, will run 27.5 km, with 13 stations, and journey time of approximately 35 minutes. It is being built as a high capacity, electrically powered rail mass transit system. Most of the route will be on the surface, but a part of the line will run on elevated structure.
The entire Blue Line will operate over a secure and exclusive right-of-way, with no level crossings and no uncontrolled access by pedestrians or vehicles.
Lagos State is financing construction of the Blue Line from its own resources. A concession contract is being awarded to finance, supply and operate the railway equipment, including electric power, signaling, trains, and fare collection. The Red Line will share the existing 30-metre wide Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) right-of-way, according to the planning.
These three instances would prove that Fashola was largely misleading Lagosians about this project – albeit for years; he was misleading the Nigerians; and indeed the world on the true state of this project considering the number of times he had made references to this project at home and abroad, every time he tried to sell the idea that he and his party had completely transformed Lagos – and as you would also note from the conflicting stories he was selling, once he stated such, Lagosians would most likely swallow such hook, line and sinker and begin to help him redistribute those perceptions [rather than truths/facts] without fact-checking such – just yesterday, this exchange occurred on Twitter between @toluogunlesi and a certain lagosian:
The sort of spirited defense put up here by this @hammdriller guy is the sort you get all over the place when you encounter the typical Lagosian; it is the sort you read of in articles; the sort you hear of on radio and on TV; it the sort of angles they push in the diaspora – as they always vouch for Fashola’s transformation of Lagos – these stories are repeated all over the place – and of course, they have ended up becoming the sacrosanct facts about Lagos that must not be questioned or debated against – I have insisted, severally in the past and continue to do so that “elitist Lagosians are largely more intellectually fraudulent than the Bourdillon Plc that has held the state back for years when it comes to discussing the problems the state faces” – Lagosians are the ones that would be making excuses to you about “how Lagos is going to become the next Dubai” – they will tell you “how the state would have progressed more if the population was no so large” – and how “the non-support of the FGN [under PDP/GEJ] is the reason the state has not made the right strides.” lies!
Read what Economist stated about Lagos/Rail project:
“But other metro projects in sub-Saharan Africa are rare. Lagos, Nigeria’s biggest city, has had plans for a light rail transit system for several years now, which the World Bank has helped to fund; but construction has been continually delayed. There is much fighting over what has happened to the money already spent.”
Lagosians love to lie on behalf of Lagos – all in a bid to hide away from the public space a certain truth they know of in their very minds to be true being that “Lagos is a Fraudulent Trap” – they can sometimes manage to have this conversation in person in hushed tones but never in the public space and they have come to see Lagos as the refuge they must belong to and not betray as they must cover up for the negative propaganda they have helped the Lagos political machinery sell to the world against PDP [and in the last 6 years, GEJ] – they know that once Lagos is exposed, they too will be seen as accomplices in this shameful practice so they’ll rather continue covering up for Lagos – which is pretty sad! Lagos is a trap because those that live in it and love to protect its image know that life in the state is unbelievably stressful because the structures therein is largely unplanned; they know they can’t leave as they lesser options to consider but rather than stand up to insist that the right things are put in place to make Lagos work better, would rather wake up by 4am and go to bed by midnight – lying to themselves that “Lagos is trying!”
This has again being epitomized by the events of the last 3 days with Lagos being placed on total lock-down – it has has shown once again, the hypocritical postures of the average Lagosian – many, who have been going through the harrowing pain yet pretending like nothing is wrong – remember all those lies of “There is traffic in Lagos because GEJ is in town?” So, is Otuoke now a LGA in Lagos? Alas, Ambode who only a few days ago had placed a ban on trucks moving during the day time limiting their operations to between 9pm to 6am, apparently was being pressured by the unions to lift the ban; he ends up relaxing the ban without informing the people; the trucks get back on the roads – and voila, folks got to spend the entire day in their vehicles – two days after, the story remains the same – for how long? Nobody knows – seriously, how much more irresponsible can a government be?
I guess I should not even bother mentioning the Fourth Mainland Bridge Projects that has only ever existed on paper and in campaign manifestos or the perennially-mouthed but always never implemented waterways transportation systems coupled with the number of lives lost in the waters during the last administration occasioned by having unregulated quacks ferry people on the waters – imagine how much more you could decongest this city if these were in place? Of course, I am going to be reminded by the voltrons of Lagos about LAGBUS – to which, I would rather say “I pass.” Truth is Lagos, for its size versus population has not yet began to scratch the surface when it comes to developing and implementing a comprehensive master-plan as pertaining to the transportation within the state and the state needs to be stop living in denial as though every thing was fine – it is not!
@chxta raised some interesting angles on the subject matter on his timeline on Monday suggesting that “Lagos loves to enjoy its status of being the only Port city in Nigeria” even though it also knows it is unable to provide the supportive infrastructure needed to support that – it would have before now always blamed the FG for Apapa because they belonged to different political parties but, now, let’s see how this would change with Alausa and Aso Rock being uner the control of the same APC.
I am providing snapshots of those tweets to allow you digest them properly:
It is my conclusion that Lagosians have allowed Bourdillon Plc get away with murder for far too long – and when they had the chance to deliver themselves from the bondage with the option of a Jimi Agbaje, they still chose to continue in the self-inflicted slavery – after dropping the narrative “I want Change – in Aso Rock and Alausa; I will vote APC in the center and PDP in Lagos” prior to the elections, they swiftly moved to “it is better for Lagos not to remain the Opposition; let’s vote APC in Lagos as well” – there you have it – Lagos is now in the Ambode Trap of no movement; no forward!
I wish to congratulate Lagosians for their tenacity in enduring the endless suffering in the hands of Bourdillon Plc and I greet them with their cult-like mantra of eko Oni baje o; o’ba j’eti – dem go soon tell me say make I relocate back to my village now – well, Bola Tinubu’s real village is only some minutes away from mine – in Osun State – na me and am go return home together.
[Note: This is a part of a series on Lagos; I shall be back with Education]