•Witnesses signing of contract for construction of second phase
•Unveils JK Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture
Deji Elumoye in Abuja and Segun James in Lagos
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday inaugurated the first phase of the Lagos Blue Rail Line, and took a ride from the Marina Station to National Theatre Station in Lagos mainland shortly thereafer.
Buhari was on the train ride alongside Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Deputy Governor of the state, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; some members of the federal and state executive councils; members of the federal and state legislative assemblies; President of China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), Chen Sichang and journalists, among others.
The first phase of the project, executed by the state government, which spans 13 kilometres, has five stations – Mile 2, Suru-Alaba, Orile Iganmu, National Theatre, and Marina.
However, for now, the operating route terminates at the National Theatre.
Buhari also witnessed the signing of the contract for the construction of the second phase of the Lagos Blue Rail Line. Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Abimbola Akinajo, signed for Lagos State government, and President of CCECC, Chen Sichang, signed for the foreign firm.
In his remarks, Sanwo-Olu thanked the president for the state visit to inaugurate several landmark projects, noting that since 1999, the state has not enjoyed the level of support from the federal government.
On the benefits of the project, the governor stated that it would reduce travel time, improve the quality of life of citizens and make Lagos one of the most resilient mega-cities in Africa that would compete favourably with other megacities around the world.
Sanwo-Olu hinted that he would invite the president again to Lagos, to also inaugurate the Red Line, which he described as a bigger rail corridor project compared with the Blue Rail Line.
‘‘This iconic Marina Station would be the largest and busiest in Africa. It has the capacity to process about 450 passengers per minute, meaning that in an hour this station can process about 250,000 passengers.”
Sanwo-Olu paid tribute to “the architect of modern Lagos, who is also the presidential candidate of our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and by the special grace of God, a most worthy successor to you, Mr. President, our Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Jagaban of Borgu Kingdom.
“This Blue Line we are commissioning today is the product of his timeless vision for Lagos State, a vision that dates back almost 25 years, when he took over the reins of leadership in Lagos State.
“One of his greatest legacies was developing a comprehensive roadmap for the future of Lagos State; one that laid out very clearly the pathway to a modern, prosperous, and globally competitive megacity
“Over the years the journey has been eventful, and many challenges have been surmounted, including a lack of support and cooperation from the Peoples Democratic Party, when they were in power. It is not a secret that the only ambition of that party was to capture Lagos, not to support progress and development.
“They made this clear in very many ways, including the unconstitutional withholding of critical funds, and brazen attempts to manipulate elections. To his eternal credit, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu stood his ground, and never backed down, setting out an excellent example for all of us, his successors, on the importance of believing in a vision and holding firmly to it at all times.”
Hamzat traced the pioneering role of the presidential candidate of APC in envisioning and laying the foundation for the project, as governor of Lagos State.
The deputy governor said, “Talking about the Blue line without making a reference to the ground-breaking contributions of the presidential candidate of our great party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is like talking about the beach without the ocean.
“A visionary leader, Asiwaju Tinubu pioneered the idea of the Lagos Blue Line and many other revolutionary initiatives.
“The Tinubu administration developed the Strategic Transport Master Plan (STMP), which laid out the foundation for a network of robust and modern transport infrastructure befitting a 21st century City-State, such as ours.
“The master plan has six rail lines and one monorail, 14 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors, over 20 water routes and a number of major roads.
“Thanks to Asiwaju’s creative leadership, today, we are making history with the completion of this rail line.”
Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Ciu Jianchun, said the completion of the first phase of the project was a demonstration of the harmony in the bilateral relations between Nigeria and China.
‘‘It is a harmony in integration, diversity, and development,” he said.
Before leaving Lagos for Dakar, Senegal, Buhari also inaugurated John Randle Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, after which he toured the facility. At the event, where the president did not make any speech, the Lagos State Commissioner for Tourism, Uzamat Akinbile Yussuf, said the museum would stimulate the state’s economy by bringing tourists from within and outside the country.
She added, “I must also stress that apart from this centre being a museum, it is a multi-faceted and an all-encompassing tourism asset that portrays the indigenous culture of not only Lagosians but the entire Yoruba race. It is, indeed, a centre that creates avenue for younger generations to have first in depth knowledge about our culture that is nearly going into extinction, so it is a knowledge sharing centre.”
Uzamat praised Sanwo-Olu for his commitment to the realisation of the project.