Track Laying of Nigeria`s Lagos- Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway Completed.
by PD Lawton, 26 July 2020
Track-laying of the high speed, standard gauge railway from Lagos to Ibadan has been completed by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC). The project was started in March 2017. The line will soon be operational and will have 10 stations. The trains will travel at an incredible 150 km/hour!
The Lagos-Ibadan line is a section of a much larger project, the Nigerian Railway Modernization Project, which will connect Lagos in the south west to Kano in the far north, by high speed rail. The CCEC has, over the last years, constructed the Abuja-Kaduna Railway , Abuja Mass Transit Railway, Itapke-Warri Railway and now the Lagos-Ibadan line. The project, which is funded by China`s Exim Bank and the Nigerian government, is being built in segments to spread the cost over time.
Lagos is the largest city in Africa, a thriving hub on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea in south-west Nigeria. The Greater Metropolitan Lagos area is home to around 16 million people. Ibadan is an important industrial city. Abuja is in the centre of Nigeria and the capital city. Kano is in the north near the border of Niger and an historically significant trans-Sahel trading point. The distance from Lagos to Kano ( south-west to north) is around 1000 km.
The main station will be in Lagos and will act as the operations centre as well as a passenger terminus. Initially 3 pairs of trains will run each day. The maximum capacity that the project is designed to accommodate is an incredible 15 pairs (inward and outward bound) per day!
The building which is still under construction, is of beautiful architectural design, and will be a colossal 11,200 square meters. It will be the largest railway station in West Africa with a capacity for 6000 passengers. It is hoped that the building will be completed by the end of this year despite the set backs from Covid-19 and the on-going safety measures being undertaken to keep construction workers safe from cross infection.
the largest passenger terminus in West Africa, Lagos Station
With local communities in mind , and bringing increased prosperity to the country, the CCECC has employed over 10 000 workers at the peak of construction, built bridges over rivers and paved many community access roads. As with numerous other infrastructure projects constructed in Africa by Chinese firms, engineers have gone above and beyond what is required in order to help alleviate the difficulties with which too many communities, have to live.
Leonardo Portanova is the Project Manager of Team [Nigeria] Ltd, involved with co-ordinating construction, he had this to say:
“I never worked before with a Chinese company and I found my experience very positive. There is an exchange of different concepts, especially concerning the design. I experienced a good way of organization of the project. Especially, I noticed the commitment of your (Chinese) engineers in this construction activity. Because this is a very important project, especially for Nigeria which is very complex. And with the realities of the Lagos area, which is a very busy metropolitan area, we had to resolve a very big problem. It was a very tight environment we had to work. And now we are coming out. The completion of the project, I`m thinking about the ordinary people of Nigeria that they can enjoy modern railway transportation in a much more efficient way. For sure it is a very important improvement for Nigeria. ”
China is known for its efficiency. Construction wise, Chinese companies build on time as a mark of honour. They are able to achieve this by designing mega-machinery that can act as a factory on wheels. It took the CCECC just 5 months to complete 156km of double ( 2 sets of line) track laying! On the Lagos-Ibadan line, a track laying machine was used that can lay 2km of track in 1 work-shift (8 hours).
China continues to show its commitment to development in Nigeria and Africa at large. Direct investment in Nigeria`s manufacturing sector has now grown to 3 billion $US which is increasing Nigeria`s productive capability, creating employment both skilled and unskilled for tens of thousands of people, and in doing so, alleviating poverty and raising the standard of living.
Investment in infrastructure leads to the growth of ancillary industries. In the case of the Nigerian Railway Modernization Project, a new factory in Kajola, Ogun Province is just one example. The factory will bring an initial 5000 jobs and will be manufacturing the rolling stock for the new, modernized railways. It will then proceed to supplying the rest of West Africa and beyond!
This rolling stock, the carriages, are super modern. Each compartment is not only luxurious and spacious but is also equipped with phone charging facilities for each seat! There are overhead luggage compartments, tables, adjustable seats, bar and restaurant facilities and if that wasn`t enough, each compartment has a television screen showing all the latest movies.
Not only has the Nigerian government of President Buhari committed to the modernization of the country`s most efficient means of freight transport and travel with the SGR (standard gauge railway) traversing the entire country but the government is also looking to the prosperity of its neighbours. President Buhari has remarked in the past that Nigeria is not an island and that without the development of its neighbours, Nigeria will never prosper. In saying that, he really expressed the spirit of the New Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the ethos of a shared future for mankind.
Buhari has been among the first African heads of state to re-awaken interest in the Transaqua Project and through the efforts of his administration this sorely needed and visionary plan is now going ahead. The 2018 Abuja Conference was a land mark event that will change the fortune not only of Chad and Nigeria but of the entire central African region!
The Kano-Maradi standard gauge rail corridor is also designed in this spirit of co-development. It will create an economic corridor from the Sahel region and one of the world`s poorest countries, Niger, directly to the Gulf of Guinea and the port cities of Lagos and Pitakwa (Port Harcourt). The idea has been championed by President Buhari. For centuries the trans-Saharan trade route went from Maradi to Kano and was prosperous until colonialism and more recently jihadist terrorism changed such fortunes. The original city of Maradi is ancient , dating back thousands of years to the time of the Silk Road.
There is something very beautiful about the fact that in these times of change, it is the New Silk Road that is returning peace and prosperity.