Nigeria's southwestern state of Lagos on Wednesday marked the completion of the first phase of a 27-km electric-powered light rail project.
Undertaken by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) since 2010, the completed tracks of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Blue Line project span 13 km in the first phase and cover five stations.
The LRMT Blue Line project is the first rail infrastructure traversing Okokomaiko, a densely populated area in the western part of Lagos, and Marina, a business district on Lagos Island.
It is part of an ambitious transport master plan, which aims to meet the demands of the state as Nigeria's commercial and economic hub and one of the world's fastest-growing megacities.
Declaring the completion of construction on the Blue Line project at a ceremony, Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, governor of Lagos, described the moment as "historic," saying Lagos became the first sub-national government in West Africa to fund and deliver a rail system from the state's balance sheet.
Sanwo-Olu said the milestone was a culmination of "impactful reforms" initiated in the state's transport ecosystem.
"Today, we are making history with the completion of the historic rail line, which is the first phase of the Blue Line," Sanwo-Olu said. "Now, we have put the challenges behind us; from now on, we will focus on the benefits of this project for our people."
The governor said the construction of the second phase of the Blue Line rail project, which covers 14 km, will be launched immediately after the inauguration of the first phase next month.
More than 2,000 Chinese and local employees worked together to optimize 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.
Huge infrastructure projects like the railway construction would continue to energize the Nigerian economy and promote speedy development, Chu said.
Speaking at the event, Zhang Zhichen, chairman of CCECC Nigeria Limited, said the Chinese firm will continue to maintain the enterprise spirit of "diligence, integrity, and tenacity" while building the follow-up projects with high quality and efficiency.
The first phase of the LMRT Blue Line project is expected to carry over 250,000 passengers daily when in full operation.