China-built West Africa's first light rail opens in Lagos, Nigeria

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor of Lagos Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Chinese ambassador to Nigeria Cui Jianchun on January 24 attended the inauguration ceremony of the first phase of the 27-kilometer-long Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Blue Line in Nigeria's southwestern state of Lagos.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari praised the project as "historic" at a banquet held by the Lagos state government before the inauguration ceremony, noted that the rail will reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, as well as improve the lives of locals.

A train of Nigerian Lagos Rail Mass Transit (Blue Line) running at the Marina Terminal during a completion ceremony in Lagos, Nigeria. December 21, 2022. /CGTN

Contracted by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), the LRMT Blue Line project is West Africa's first electric-powered light rail and the largest infrastructure investment project in Lagos state, Nigeria.

The project is also the first rail infrastructure traversing Okokomaiko, a densely populated area in the western part of Lagos, and Marina, a business district on Lagos Island.

With the commercial operation, the project will greatly improve connectivity of the Nigerian economic hub and provide railway construction experience for the rest of Nigeria and other countries in West Africa.

Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu delivers a speech at the inauguration ceremony of the first phase of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Blue Line in Lagos, Nigeria, January 24, 2023. /CGTN

"The new light rail would reduce travel time, improve the quality of life of citizens and make Lagos one of the most resilient megacities in Africa that would compete favorably with other cities around the world." Sanwo-Olu praised the importance of the project to Nigerian economic development.

In an earlier interview, Governor Sanwo-Olu noted that Lagos accounted for 26.7 percent of Nigeria's total GDP and over 50 percent of Nigerian non-oil industrial capacity is in the city.

Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria Cui Jianchun delivers a speech at the inauguration ceremony of the first phase of the L

Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria praised the Blue Line, as a major part of China-Nigeria infrastructure cooperation, will improve the efficiency of Lagos residents at work.

"It is a line of speed, line of sustainability, line of harmony. Today, we really understand the meaning of time, we need to sustain the usage of time for a greater efficiency," Cui said.

Construction of the first phase of the Lagos Blue Line project started in July 2010 and was completed in December 2022. The first phase of the project stretches 13 kilometers, with five stations, and is expected to transport over 250,000 passengers daily.