It’s usually hard to find the central bank of any nation excited, when monitoring efficiency of disbursed loans.
But last week, leader of the team ,Yusuf Phillip Yila, along with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) echelon on tour of projects for which it syndicated a N160 billion loan to get the two Lagos State’s rail projects off the ground, was much more so.
Yila, the Director of Development Finance, beamed a smile that soon caught on with his colleagues, who promised to return when the project is completed, and ride on the two train systems.
They were at home with the Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Mrs. Abimbola Akinajo, who assured that fixed infrastructure for the first phases of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Blue and Red lines, would be inaugurated by the fourth quarter of the year, with commercial operations taking off first quarter 2023.
Mrs Akinajo, a mechanical engineer, with experience in the United Kingdom Metro train construction and development, had exuded confidence last Thursday, as she, Yila, and his team went round the projects.
Mrs Akinajo, who received the team, made up of the Director of Risk Management Dr Blaise Ijebor, the Director of Strategy Management, Mr Clement Buari, and other top officials of a consortium of banks financing the two projects said the projects have achieved 60 per cent completion. She was confident that the contractor, Messrs China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), would not disappoint on the delivering the world-class projects
Akinajo said projects of this size are executed in phases, assuring the CBN team that once the first phase was completed, the government would begin work on the final phase of the project.
Addressing the security of passengers and rail infrastructure, Mrs. Akinajo said the government was engaging security agencies to protect its assets as well as provide security to passengers and others plying the stations.
She said: “We would have closed circuit cameras installed around our stations to pick up any strange activities. It is a multi-faceted approach we are taking to security to ensure the security of all our people as well as our assets,” Mrs. Akinajo stated.
The LAMATA chief said both lines, when fully on stream, would provide modal alternative to about two million Lagosians who are expected to use the two rail lines, and that the integrated signalling of the lines have been calibrated to carry passengers from the stations every three minutes, and this can be further recalibrated if there are pressure to increase the frequency of the train service.
While the Red Line – Agbado to Oyingbo – would run on Diesel Motor Unit (DMU), the Red Line – Mile 2 to Marina – will run on Electric Motor Unit (EMU).
She said the agency would soon begin serious advocacy on the Mile 2 – Marina line because of its risk to life once it fully takes off, to protect them against the risk of electrocution as a result of the high voltage that would pass through the corridor, which is out at a minimum of 700MW.
On the Red Line, she said the eight railway stations on the corridor were at various stages of completion, adding that at most sites, the form works – were at advanced stages of completion.
The stations on the Red Line are to be sited at Oyingbo, Yaba, Mushin, Ikeja, Agege, Iju and Agbado, and Oshodi, which would be integrated with the multi-level transit interchange at the sprawling transit hub, while the Blue Line is to have five stations – at Mile 2, Alaba, Iganmu, National Theatre and Marina, which would be a transit interchange.
She said four of the stations on the Blue Line corridor were at 98 percent completion.
At the Ikeja Train Station for instance, a fly over bridge measuring one million metres, the length is being constructed, with 700 metres that takes off from the Ikeja Along Bus Stop to Medical Road Junction, while another 300 metres long flyover begins from Computer Village, terminating at Anifowoshe Junction inner Ikeja, with the intention of taking human and vehicular impact off the level crossing at Ikeja.
Akinajo further said the government would establish a Depot and Stabling Yard at Oyingbo and Agbado for fueling, servicing and maintenance for the rolling stock that would be deployed in the corridor.
At Ikeja, Agege, Oshodi, Yaba, Mushin and Oyingbo, the government, she said, is thinking of bringing Transit Oriented Developments (TOD), that would encourage park and ride, Non-Motorised Transport (NMT), and multi-level car parks, as well as shopping arcades, that would be open corporate entities facilitating and making commerce easily accessible thereby discouraging street trading, and illegal street parking among others.
When fully operational, the state’s train service would be integrated into the electronic single payment mode, by making use of the Cowry card, being used on the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), and the waterways ferry services.
She said the Ikeja station is a four-level structure with a 500-metre skywalk that would link the train station to the Local Wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja.
Akinajo also said the government had started paying compensation to the affected persons, adding that for the first time, payments were made not only to land/property owners, but also tenants and traders whose sheds were affected by the project.
Yila and his team were impressed. He said: “We are impressed by what my colleagues and I have seen. There has been much progress from what we saw last year. Most importantly, I am impressed with the amount of jobs that have been created for Nigerians.”
He described the project as” world- class,” adding: “Sometimes next year, we would come and take a ride and I hope many more states would take a cue from what Lagos State Government is doing to create modal options for the people as well as provide jobs.
“As an engineer, I know the enormous amount of work that has gone into this project and we must commend the state government for pushing the project to this level. We have seen the level of the structure. Most of the multi-level edifices are already in place and installation of fittings will soon begin.
“We have been told by the Managing Director of LAMATA that construction will be completed by year end and commercial operation will commence by first quarter 2023. We look forward to that promise, because we know the enormous impact this would have on transportation in the state.”
Yila, who observed that the state is under enormous transportation pressure, said the state is already over-burdened and the two trains would provide the needed relief.
“We have toured the Blue Light rail project late last year and we are happy at the pace of development. Now we are here at Ikeja, which is a major station on the Red Line corridor, and we are satisfied with the pace of work.
“Lagos is like a mini Nigeria and the economic nerve centre of the nation. We can all see how people are just moving into the state and the insecurity in the Northeast and Northwest is not helping matters. So this will go a long way in bringing relief to residents living in the state and assist Lagos in managing traffic in the metropolis.
The CBN under its Differentiated Cash Reserve Requirement (DCRR) pooled together six commercial banks to provide funding for the completion of the first phases of the Blue and Red Rail line projects.
Under the programme, the banks may request from the CBN, a release of funds under their CRR to finance the eligible projects as well as evidence that the funds are directed at the projects approved by the CBN.
Under the scheme First Bank of Nigeria Plc, Zenith Bank and UBA are providing funding for the Red Line while Sterling Bank, Access Bank and Fidelity Bank are funding the Blue line.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Thursday said it is financing the Lagos State blue line rail project with a total of N110 billion under its Real Sector Support Facility (RSSF) Differentiated Cash Reserve Requirement (DCRR) intervention fund.