December 7, 2023

Landlords of the two Ogun State communities – Agbado and Ope-Ilu – who are affected by the Lagos Red Line Rail project, last week, got fully paid by the Lagos State Government for their lands which was taken over for the actualisation of the Red Rail Line. ADEYINKA ADERIBIGBE writes.

Over 180 landlords, whose houses are affected by the construction of the Agbado Train Station and stabling yard of the Red Line Rail, were last week paid by the Lagos State Government.

The payment brought a closure to fears from the landlords who had thought they may never get anything for their properties pulled down by the Lagos State.

They recalled that those affected in the Ogba-Iyo-Ijoko-Alagbole-Akute road/bridge construction demolition, since 2013, were yet to be paid a dime. Their fears were further kindled when all affected tenants in the two communities, were, about two months ago, paid and they left, leaving their landlords at the mercy of touts who seized the opportunity of the desolation to lay siege on the two towns.

Worse for these landlords, was that many, who had given their consent to the Lagos State Government rail system had voluntarily pulled down their structures. Many had sold all their valuables including doors, windows, roofing sheets, curtains and beddings, hoping to recover once they get paid their compensation.

A red herring was thrown into the wedge when one of the residents, Joseph Akinola had approached the court to frustrate efforts to get the affected landlords compensated. But led by the Baales of the two communities and the Iyalode of Agbado Chief Mrs Esther Adebimpe, a large number of the affected landlords had appealed to the Lagos State government to without prejudice to the matter in court, go address and pay all those who had accepted their lot and are ready to be compensated.

For these set of people, their waiting was eventually over last week as the Lagos State Government through the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) moved in and effected the payment of compensation to them.

The payment, it was gathered, became epochal, as it was the first to be executed in the spirit of the Lagos-Ogun Joint Development Commission.

The compensation exercise was also jointly supervised by officials of the Ogun State Lands Bureau and Survey Department and LAMATA.

It followed the revocation of the affected land titles by the Governor of Ogun State, Prince Dayo Abiodun.

The head, Acquisition and Compensation Department in the Lands Bureau and Survey, Ogun State, Mrs. Oluwaseun Oluwasusi, who represented the Ogun State Government, informed beneficiaries that the compensation was paid following the successful presentation of the revocation notice to each of the property owner and their consent to support the government on the rail development project.

She expressed the appreciation of Governor Abiodun for their cooperation and understanding, stating that the rail project would make commuting between the two states seamless, improve their lifestyle and reduce the stress associated with commuting between Ogun and Lagos states.

On his part, LAMATA’s Consultant, Corporate Communication Mr. Kolawole Ojelabi, who represented the Managing Director of LAMATA, Engr. (Mrs). Abimbola Akinajo, expressed the appreciation of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu to the Ogun State Government for facilitating the acquisition of land in Agbado and Ope-Ilu for the Agbado Train Station and Stabling Yard respectively.

He said both states had meticulously looked at the landed space needed for the project to ensure that people affected are adequately compensated to ease their relocation.

“About two months ago, we paid tenants. Today, it is the turn of landlords. This is to prove to you that the government is serious about compensation. On behalf of the governments of Lagos and Ogun states, I want to appeal to you to promptly vacate the areas the government had acquired and paid for, so we could build the infrastructure for the rail line.

“We are currently running behind schedule because this rail line is expected to commence operation by the first quarter of 2023,” Ojelabi added.

The payment of compensation for acquired land had usually been the bane of governments to provide life changing infrastructure for its teeming people.

Besides the train station, Lagos State  is expected to build a stabling yard between Agbado and Ope-Ilu where the rolling stock would take off or land at and would be available to store rail vehicles while they are not being loaded or unloaded or are waiting to be assembled into trains.

A stabling yard and a rail yard is a series of rail networks for storing, sorting or loading and unloading rail vehicles and locomotives.

Yards have many tracks in parallel for keeping rolling stock or unused locomotives stored off the main line, so that they do not obstruct the flow of traffic. Cars or wagons are moved around in a stabling yard by switchers or shunters, a type of locomotive.

The 37-kilometre red rail line, which is expected to carry about 1.5 million passengers when fully on stream, is expected to traverse the national standard gauge from Agbado to Oyingbo, in the first phase. The second phase is expected to take off from Oyingbo to Marina to join the Blue Line interchange, with the first phase beginning from Mile 2 to Marina.

The Red Line has no fewer than eight stations and two stabling yards – Oyingbo Station (with a stabling yard). Other stations are at; Yaba, Mushin, (with an overpass at Ogunmokun and Kayode Streets), Oshodi, (which is expected to connect with Terminal Three), Shogunle, Ikeja (an iconic train station with a skywalk into the local wing of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport). Others are; Agege, Iju, and Agbado stations (with the second stabling yard).

With the Agbado Station and the stabling yard yet to take-off, and the heat of politicking already setting in, it is hard to imagine the project meeting up with the scheduled inauguration by first quarter next year.

The project which started in April 2021 has however proved the will of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration to take bold steps in changing the narratives around transportation and ensuring the opening of the transportation ecosystem in the state to include rail transit services from the choking single road-reliance mode, with its attendant gridlock and congestion across the state.

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