Lagos Blue Rail and 10yrs of Belt and Road Initiative


    By Aaron Ossai

    In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the joint construction of the “Belt and Road” Initiative. This year marks the 10th anniversary of this initiative. Over the past decade, practical cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative has continued to deepen and expand, making positive contributions to economic development, increasing employment and improving people’s livelihood in various countries and has become a popular international public product and international cooperation platform.

    Nigeria, as the ninth country in Africa to join the Belt and Road Initiative, is an important partner of China in Africa. The two sides have made in-depth development in infrastructure cooperation. In recent years, a large number of important projects including the Lagos-Ibadan Railway and the Lagos Airport Terminal have been completed in Nigeria, which have greatly improved the level of Nigeria’s infrastructure and continued to benefit the Nigerian people.

    On September 4 this year, the Lagos Blue Rail Mass Transit (BlueRail Line) built by China Civil Engineering Construction Group Co., Ltd Corporation, (CCECC) has officially commissioned it for commercial operation. A Nigerian engineer participated in the construction of the Blue Rail Line narrated his experiences and observations. His story may help people further understand the Belt and Road Initiative.

    Mr. Marvis Otoide Christopher from Edo Sate, Nigeria studied Civil Engineering with approximately 13 years post graduation work experience; he currently works with CCECC Nigeria Ltd as a Project Engineer with Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Blue Line Project team and has been residing in Lagos State for almost 15 years now.

    For experience and history, Lagos State is one of the states with high traffic volume due to the large population density. The regular commonly seen traffic congestion situation within the state has negatively impacted and affected the state’s economy and also increased travel time and increased passenger time.

    In 2013, President Xi Jinping put forwarded the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which was initiated in order to address infrastructural gap and thus has the potential to accelerate economic growth across the Asia Pacific, Africa and Central and Eastern Europe.

    The BRI is a program that is associated with a large plan of investments in infrastructural development for different sectors such as railways, roads, ports, and airports, as well as power plants and telecommunications network. It is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in order to invest in more than 150 countries and international organizations.

    As part of the benefit of the BRI, the Chinese company (CCECC) has constructed the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Blue Line scheme and the realization of this project has brought succor and solutions to human needs in Lagos State as this has positively impacted and benefited Lagos state in reducing traffic situation and also largely boosting the city’s economy.

    Presently, the usual traffic gridlock along the Eko-Bridge area of Lagos state is reducing gradually, since the official commencement of the Blue Line Project Phase 1 section (Marina to Mile 2) on September 4, 2023. Commuters have now discovered that, it is more convenient and reliable to travel through the Blue Line Scheme to their travel destinations within the travel corridor as the Blue Line scheme can help the commuters to calculate the travel time according to the journey timetable/information of the arrival time and the departure time of the train provided at each station to guide passenger’s train movement awareness. By so doing, this enables commuters to meet up with their business schedules and time targets.

    Being an employee of CCECC has been a smooth ride for him as he has enjoyed the comfort and friendly relationship with Chinese colleagues and also enjoyed the way of working approach of his direct boss. He is characterized with vision, being fair, flexible and supportive.

    He is an active listener that always listens to other’s needs and promotes empowerment, he offers flexible work plan so that other aspect of human needs and existence can be met, and he is an active listener, promotes empowerment, supportive, fair and always put aside personal preferences and favoritism in his dealing and engagements while discharging his official role and duty.

    CCECC is well equipped with high efficiency and advanced construction machinery and technology, it is a prayer answered for me to key into these opportunities in order to learn the required skills and to help me with the will power to build my home town or my dream country and also to help me further reshape my engineering expertise.

    Due to the great significance of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit Blue Line Project significant value, important members of the government, to mention but few: General Mahammadu Buhari (Rtd); Former President of Federal Republic of Nigeriaan, His Excellency; Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos Sate, His Excellency; Kadri Obafemi Hamzat, Deputy Governor of Lagos Sate, Mr. Tayo Akinmade Ayinde; Lagos State Chief of staff to the Governor, Dr. Frederic Abimbola Oladeinde; Lagos State Commissioner of Transport, Engr. Aramide Adeyoye; SA Lagos State on Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Abimbola Akinajo; Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN); Former Minister of Works and Housing and Former Governor of Lagos Sate and the Chinese Consulate General, Ambassador Cui Jianchun. During project milestone achievement visitation and the events, they had commended and praised the concept of the Blue Line Project.

    The successful operation commencement has alleviated traffic bottle-neck within the corridor as commuters have started enjoying the benefits brought by the project success.

    The urgent need for Lagos State Government to speed up the phase 2 section (Mile 2 to Okokomaiko) construction works areas is now a heated discussion among the commuters while riding on the train in order to extend their travelling comforts across the entire 27km rail corridor.

    The Blue Line Project has also impacted the lives of individuals. He said he learnt that, as part of corporate education and training contribution to the society, CCECC has sponsored some students to study in China, these beneficiaries have acquired degrees in Civil engineering and transportation specialty.

    Upon the completion of their education and training, they returned to Nigeria and joined the Blue Line team as a way of giving back the acquired knowledge to the society through transfer of knowledge and he admires the chance and opportunity likewise to study abroad in order to achieve more and ensure advanced technological exposure in the field of engineering and relevant disciplines so that environmental and human problems can be solved effortlessly and seamlessly with the application of modern approach in resolving human needs through technological experience and practice upon his return to Nigeria.

    In a special and remarkable way, the Blue Line Project job had helped and is still helping him to support his family financially. Several projects and responsibilities have been achieved and accomplished through savings realized from this project. The LRMT Blue Line Scheme is a project with high technical performance.

    In achieving the present success on the project, several technical sequence and processes had been done ranging from design stage to site construction implementation phase. For the sake and interest of knowledge sharing, the LRMT Blue Line is a rail line system initiated by Lagos State Government and contracted to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) as DESIGN & BUILD project.

    The entire Blue Line rail alignment runs a total distance of approximately 27km, and to be served by 11 stations buildings, 8km viaduct length (bridge) section inclusive of 0.5km Lagoon Sea crossing continuous beam and 19km at-grade level section. The track rail line is a double line track rail line with more additional track lines at the terminal station and depot area for rail stabling and maintenance.

    The track lines adopt electrical traction mode system “EMU (Electric Motor Unit) Scheme”, with a designed maximum speed of 100km/h. it is powered by its own electricity through a dedicated Independent Power Project (IPP) to avoid power outages. Having this opportunity to participate in the laudable project, it is a prayer answered for the Engineering graduate to find practical situations in the field of study to enable unlearning and relearning process.

    He said he expected that the Nigerian Government will provide us with an enabling environment so that the acquired knowledge and technical expertise can be further transferred to the local content engineers in order to ensure a well-collaborated and collective build system, to build a community and learning culture, to connect remote individuals with to knowledge enabling system, to enhance cognitive processes like problem solving and reasoning, to stimulate innovation and general growth.

    The Blue Line connects the mainland part of the city of Lagos to Lagos Island. When fully operational, the Blue Line will run 76 times from 5:30 am to 10 pm and can carry 175,000 passengers per day. The train will only stop at each station for 90 seconds to pick up and evacuate passengers. At the same time, the Red Line light Project rail in Lagos is also under rapid construction.

    Traveling by light rail in the future will become a new way of life and experience for people in Lagos. People can say farewell to congestion and enjoy safe, punctual and efficient transportation. It can improve everyone’s work efficiency and will certainly inject new impetus into the long-term development of Lagos.

    There are walls painted with the CCECC logo in many places in Nigeria. Whenever he passes by such a construction site or camp, he knew that this is the project that our company is undertaking. A road or railway is being extended, and a building is rising. He said he is proud of this, and has directly felt the great changes that the “One Belt, One Road” initiative has brought to us.

    In mid-October, the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held in Beijing, and Nigeria will also send a delegation to participate. He sincerely hoped that China and Nigeria will have more extensive and in-depth cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative believing that with the joint efforts of the two people, the two sides will benefit from each other and bring more opportunities for Nigeria’s development, creating a more beautiful future together.