Commuters who had long endured the challenges of overcrowded roads and prolonged commute time in Nigeria’s Lagos were visibly thrilled by the convenience, comfort, and speed of the city’s light rail which began commercial operation on Monday.
As the train glided along its tracks from the iconic Marina Station on Lagos island down to Mile 2, a busy district in the city, many Lagos residents on board the China-built electric-powered light rail could not contain their delight. The air-conditioned coaches offered a stark contrast to the daily commuting struggles many had grown accustomed to.
“With this train, there is no stress; we are able to move around. You can work with your time, and your mental health is intact now; gone are the days we complained about traffic and all of that,” said Farida Ahmed, a businesswoman who made the inaugural commercial ride on the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Blue Line corridor on Monday morning.
“This is a great project, and will ease movement across Lagos,” she said.
Undertaken by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation in July 2010 and completed in Dec. 2022, the first phase of the LRMT Blue Line corridor spans 13 km and covers five stations. The LRMT Blue Line is the first rail infrastructure traversing Okokomaiko, a densely populated area in the western part of Lagos, and Marina.
The new light rail will reduce travel time, improve the quality of life of citizens, and make Lagos one of the most resilient megacities in Africa, said Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos, at the commissioning of the project earlier this year.
Taking a ride on the light rail Monday morning, Sanwo-Olu expressed his excitement by experiencing the inaugural commercial operation. “The users of this intracity rail would enjoy maximum security while on board the system.”
The Chinese-constructed light rail project not only promises to ease the daily commuting woes of Lagos residents but also offers an environmentally friendly alternative to congested roads, as well as improve the lives of locals.
Olusola Mustapha, a 22-year-old student at Lagos State University, described the commercial operation of the light rail as “the game-changer” while sharing her thoughts on the inaugural ride.
“I cannot believe that we finally have a light rail in Lagos. The comfort and convenience are unparalleled, and I am looking forward to a stress-free commute from now on,” she said.
The train system, which is expected to convey 175,000 passengers on a daily basis, will run 12 trips per day for a period of two weeks, and the service will gradually increase, according to Abimbola Akinajo, managing director of the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority.