Cost controversy lingers as Lagos Blue Rail begins operations September 4



Uba Group

The much expected Blue Line rail is set to be inaugurated for commercial operations on Monday, September 4 by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

The metro rail will journey between Mile 2 and Marina, moving 250,000 passengers daily.

This is coming nine months after former President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned it last January, amid the controversy surrounding its actual costs.

The Lagos Mass Rail Transport failed on three occasions to meet announced deadline for its take off.

The Lagos State Government had said the the metro line would commence in the first quarter of this year. A new date of August 30 could not not be met also. But all is now set for the September 4 take off of commercial operations, 14 years after the project was awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation in 2009 during the administration of former governor Babatunde Fashola.

However, the odium of an alleged erroneous claim on the website of China Railway Construction Corporation – the parent company of CCECC -imputing the contract sum as $182 million as against $1.2 billion advertised by the state government as the cost of the project has refused to go away.

The Blue rail, powered by an independent power plant (IPP), is expected to be 27 kilometres long, connecting Okokomaiko to Marina.

The POINT’s checks of minimum price for a stretch of metro in Shanghai, China, which has the largest metro line in the world (above ground in the outer suburbs) (over $71 million USD) per kilometre.

Construction in the city centre is up to (over $186 million USD) per kilometre.

The Lagos State Government had awarded three contracts for the survey and design of the Blue and Red Rail lines for implementation respectively in 2009 and Blue Line phase 2A for the construction of earthwork, ballast, sleepers and tracks for one kilometre and Iganmu Station between Iganmu to Mile 2 at the cost of $182 million.

This was captured in the CRCC’s report in 2010 and erroneously assumed as the cost of implementing the two rail lines. The Lagos State Government had intended to implement the red line as the first rail line but due to the unavailability of the corridor as a result of the constraints contained in the Railway Act for using the corridor, it decided to concentrate efforts on the blue line.

The survey and design for the Red Line was therefore stepped down.

The project’s global cost of about $1.17 billion as contained in the Lagos State Government document on the rail project is the verified project cost of the blue line rail project as at the time it was approved in 2009.

Abimbola Akinajo, managing director of the Lagos Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA) said, “Since the commissioning, the state government has been testing the rail system “for different groups of people across the state, to familiarise Lagosians with the rail system.

“This operation will start with 12 trips for 2 weeks which will be ramped up to 76 trips per day.

“A full Journey from Marina to Mile 2 will cost N750, Zonal fares will be between N400 and N500 (for people not making the complete full trip).”

“The transportation palliative announced by the governor will also cover the train system, meaning that the highest fare for the full trip will be N375.


Akinajo said that over 300 CCTV cameras cover the whole of the Blue Line Rail.

“Over 30 Cameras monitoring the tracks alone, Command and control centers available in all Stations..
“Plain cloth security agents and officers of the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps will ride with passengers at all times, any altercation on the train will not be tolerated. Vandalism also will not be tolerated,” he noted.

On the September date, Akinajo said, “We couldn’t begin operations as intended by the end of the first quarter due to unexpected issues. Although we promised an August launch, we faced challenges in meeting that timeline.”

She also revealed that the service would operate in both morning and evening phases, with continuous assessments throughout the day to ensure the trains maintain proper working conditions.

“Operating hours for the train stations will span between 6:30 am and 10:30.”

The blue line is one of the 7 Lagos metro rail lines the state has embarked upon, it spanned from Marina to Okokomaiko
More than 2,000 Chinese and local employees worked together to optimise the construction even in the face of multiple challenges, such as complicated geology and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Chu Maoming, China’s consul general in Lagos.