The chaotic transportation system in Lagos that has made the state to assume an unwanted notoriety may not totally go away any time soon, but there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.
A private firm, Ropeways Transport Limited, is set to move hundreds of commuters on daily basis in the skies through cable cars.
To facilitate this, the company has disclosed plans to invest $500m (N79bn) in the cable car mass urban transit system, which is expected to be in operation by 2015.
The African Development Bank is the co-financier and lead arranger of funds, while the project sponsors and investors will provide the equity finance.
The cable car transit system, the first of its kind in Nigeria, will provide commuters affordable, safe, timely and stress-free mode of transportation, according to the Managing Director, Ropeways Transport Limited, Capt. Dapo Olumide.
Under the terms of a 30-year franchise agreement Ropeways Transport signed with the state government through the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, construction of towers, stations and connecting network cables for the cable cars will begin in November 2013 and is expected to be completed in 24 months.
The Lagos State Government is not required to make any financial contributions towards the project under the franchise agreement.
For the first phase of the project, the following routes will be covered: Ijora-Iddo, Iddo-Adeniji, Apapa-Oluwole, Oluwole-Adeniji, Adeniji-Obalende, Obalende-Falomo, and Falomo-Victoria Island.
In this phase, the company is targeting to daily transport about 8,000 people per hour and per direction, with each cabin having the capacity to carry 35 people at a time over a distance of 12.5 kilometres and speed of 35 kilometres per hour.
Commuters, according to Olumide, will pay between N200 and N300 per trip when the system becomes operational.
The project, he said, would use Doppelmayr’s proprietary technology, adding that Doppelmayr was a Swiss/Austrian specialist company that manufactured chairlifts, cable cars, gondolas, surface tows for ski and amusement parks, as well as urban transport systems, and was founded in 1892.
He said the cable car transit system would provide alternative means of mass transportation in the metropolis and help ease the current transportation difficulties, and restore dignity to commuting because the current situation was hampering economic development and negatively impacting the quality of life of Lagos residents.
“By complementing existing transport modes, the Lagos cable car transit system will play its part in reducing the traffic congestion in the city,” Olumide said.
Justifying the need for the project, the Ropeways boss said studies had shown that Lagos would become the world’s third largest city with 25 million inhabitants by 2015, with approximately 12 million daily passenger movements and trips projected to increase at a rate of six per cent per annum.
Olumide said, “The existing metropolitan highway infrastructure is severely constrained, with journeys to and from work within the city regularly exceeding three hours. In addition, studies carried out in 2009 on vehicle registration show that an additional 200,000 vehicles are registered annually in Lagos State.
“This equates to 222 vehicles per kilometre of road in Lagos, which by far outweighs the national average of just 11 vehicles per kilometre of road, with vehicles estimated to contribute more than 70 per cent of the air pollution in Lagos.”
Speaking on the safety of cable car mass transit system, Olumide said it was one of the safest means of transport worldwide, citing a 2009 study by the Vancouver Metropolitan Transport Agency in Canada, which determined that passengers were 20,000 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident in a vehicle than in a cable car.
The Lagos cable car transit system, he said, would incorporate several standard safety features, including auxiliary drives and hydraulic brakes to prevent passengers being stranded, lightening protection on towers, ropes and stations, as well as solar panels on each cabin roof to provide power for cabin interior and exterior lighting.
There will also be passenger monitoring with CCTV and audio communication links between the control towers, stations and cabins, as well as passenger address system.
Olumide said the system would not rely on power supply from the grid but would be powered by an Independent Power Project, dual-fired primary turbines and dual-fired back up turbines, with sufficient number of static inverters to provide 30 minutes of backup power.
According to him, the project is environmentally safe with very low carbon emission, a fact that has made the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to list it as a Clean Development Mechanism process for carbon credits.