A GREATER LAGOS IS INDEED RISING

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Dr. Obafemi Hamzat

On January 13th, 2002, the bill establishing the Lagos Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA) was signed into law by, no prize for guessing who, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR who then was the governor of our dear state of Lagos.

He then went further to start the process of actualizing the bill using what was then referred to as Lagos Urban Transport Policy, and finally by December 2nd, 2003, LAMATA was formally launched and properly populated.

I can confidently say that the commissioning of this impactful and landscape-enhancing transportation project would not have been impossible if not for that vision.

Due to the beauty of the ingenious Lagos School of Governance, which not only breeds ideas but also connects people, successive administrations of Babatunde Fashola, Akinwumi Ambode, and of course, Babajide Olushola Sanwo-Olu kept to the template.

 Hence, on the  24th of January 2023, a historic feat occurred in Lagos, as the first phase of the Lagos Blue Line Rail was commissioned.

With that singular act, Lagos became the first sub-national in Africa – anywhere in the world, I dare say – to singlehandedly fund such an audacious project.

The commissioning effectively announced to the world the completion of the first phase of the people-oriented project, which has five stations at Mile 2, Suru-Alaba, Orile Iganmu, National Theatre, and Marina. It has since commenced commercial operation, moving about 250,000 excited passengers daily. We give God the glory.

Your Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, exactly a year after that momentous accomplishment, we are gathered here today to inaugurate the first phase of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Red Line. This time around, our President, a dearest son of the State of Excellence and architect of many of the great initiatives we are pushing and nourishing, His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, takes center stage in the inaugural rites. And rightfully so! I will get back to that in a few minutes.

Today’s historic achievement proclaims loudly our administration’s commitment to upholding the sanctity of electoral promises. While seeking Lagosians’ support for our mandate, under the banner of our great party, the All-Progressives Congress (APC), we pledged a total commitment to overhauling the transport infrastructure.

Over four and a half years later, it is obvious that we are walking the talk.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, please, permit me to go down memory and recall that the groundbreaking and commencement of civil works for the Red Line was performed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, CON on Thursday 15th April, 2021 right here at Ikeja.

Today, 1,050 days later, we are back here in fulfillment of our promise that our administration will complete this iconic project, which has the DNA of our administration from start to finish.

When I and Mr. Governor, some of our colleagues, and gentlemen of the press took a ride on this train recently, I whispered to myself: “This is Lagos” I know that I am not in the Big Apple; nor am I in London. It was sunny and humid outside that day. Not so inside the commodious cabin of this beautiful train; it was cool, calm, and cozy. I know that Lagos is indeed Rising!

In other words, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, what we are witnessing now is a bold testimony to our spirit of enterprise, our never-say-never spirit, the Spirit of Lagos.

The project represents a monumental feat in infrastructure development, reflecting courage, creativity, determination, focus, meticulous planning, and execution.

Based on the first pillar of our Administration’s policy thrust – transportation and traffic management- our commitment is to develop an efficient and sustainable transportation system that will improve mobility, promote economic growth, and enhance the living conditions of our people. This all-important transport infrastructure represents a major step in this direction.

Being a progressive and people-oriented government, our transportation strategy is a multimodal one, bringing together the various elements of road, rail, and water and ensuring that they are seamlessly integrated.

Your Excellencies, Ladies, and gentlemen, the Lagos Red Line runs from Agbado to Oyingbo, and it is projected to reduce the travel time from about two and a half hours to just 35 minutes. The passenger capacity of the first phase is 500,000 daily. The line will be served by eight stations. It will reduce the pressure on our roads, especially for the majority of our people moving from Agbado in Ogun State, the outskirts of the city to the mainland and the heart of the city on Lagos Island.

Kindly permit me, at this juncture, to express our profound gratitude to all those who have played key roles in the evolvement and realization of this people-oriented project.

At this point, I will have to go back to the subject of our dear president, His Excellency Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, the man whose vision gave rise to the whole idea of an intermodal transport system in Lagos.

Talking about the Red Line without referring to the ground-breaking contributions of the President, is like talking about the beach without the ocean.

A visionary leader, Asiwaju Tinubu, while he was the Governor of Lagos State, pioneered the idea of an intermodal transport system in Lagos. His 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. The master plan has six rail lines and one monorail, 14 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridors, over 20 water routes, and some major new roads.

Thanks to Asiwaju’s creative leadership, today, we are making history with the completion of the first phase of Lagos Red Line.

There is no doubt that our President will feel like a proud father at the naming ceremony of his newborn baby. He should.

Interestingly, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and yours sincerely were part of that administration. That again is the beauty of Lagos. As earlier stated, Babatunde Fashola must be mentioned for his doggedness in pursuing the Blue Line.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, as I draw to a close, let me appreciate Lagosians for bearing with us in the face of all the inconveniences thrown up by the implementation of the light rail network.

Together, we will attain the ‘Greater Lagos’ of our collective dream.

On this note, on behalf of Mr. Governor, I welcome Mr. President back to his home and every one of us to this historic occasion. Welcome to Lagos, the ‘Centre of Excellence’ and Citadel of Innovative Governance.

Welcome onboard the Red Line!

Thank you for listening

  • Being the text of a welcome address delivered by the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr. Obafemi Kadri Hamzat at the commissioning of the first phase of the Lagos Red Line Rail on Thursday, February 24, 2024.
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