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Lagos is changing: How China is assisting in the transformation of the largest city in Africa - Businessday NG

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    Before the Lagos Blue Rail was built, it took Bunmi Aliyu, a Lagos resident three hours to commute to work each day. She had to take three different buses, and she often got stuck in traffic.

    “It was very stressful,” Bunmi said. “I would often be late for work, and I would be exhausted when I arrived home.”

    But now, thanks to the Lagos Blue Rail, Bunmi’s commute takes only 45 minutes. She can take the train directly from her home station to her workstation, and she never has to worry about traffic.

    “The Lagos Blue Rail has made a huge difference in my life,” Bunmi said. “Now I have more time to spend with my family and friends, and I’m not as stressed as I used to be.”

    Bunmi’s story is just one example of how China’s investment in infrastructure is transforming the lives of Lagosians. The Lagos Blue Rail and the new international airport terminal are making Lagos a more liveable and prosperous city for everyone.

    Both projects are being built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), a subsidiary of China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), one of the largest construction companies in the world.

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    The Lagos Blue Rail is a light rail system that will run for 27.5 kilometres across the city, linking the suburbs to the central business district. On completion, it is estimated that it will carry over 500,000 passengers per day.

    Another project that makes travel more convenient and smoother is the new international airport terminal. It has the capacity to accommodate millions of passengers annually.

    The Lagos International Airport, which is being built by CCECC, is a remarkable project that showcases China’s cultural adaptability, strong influence, and positive impact on Nigeria’s social and economic development. The project, which is worth billions of naira, will enhance Nigeria’s economic prospects. The airport will also offer tourism benefits, promote global standards and practices, and improve the comfort and convenience of travellers. Moreover, the airport will attract foreign investments, create more jobs, and stimulate local economic growth.

    Both the Lagos Blue Rail and the new international airport terminal are expected to have a positive impact on Lagos’s economy and quality of life. They will create jobs, boost tourism, and attract new investment to the city. They will also make it easier for Lagosians to get around and access the resources they need to succeed.

    Speaking on the project constructed by CCECC, Engr. Mrs. Abimbola Akinajo – Managing Director, Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), highlighted the benefits commuters would enjoy including comfort and journey time savings.

    “Our trains are air-conditioned. If you’re going from Mile 2 to Marina today, you will spend at least close to two hours on the road. That train will take you not more than 20 minutes depending on speed,” she said.

    The LAMATA MD also assured of security, adding that passengers will be safe on the Blue Line. “We have always had the visibility of CCTV in all our stations. We are also working with Lagos Neighbourhood Watch, people who sort of mingle with the crowd, gather local intelligence, and understand what people are doing.”

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    Furthermore, she described the project as a major achievement by the Lagos State government under the leadership of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and therefore urged Lagosians to protect the rail infrastructure from vandalism to avoid wasting the commonwealth investment.

    “I want to speak about owning this infrastructure. Let us not under any circumstance begin to vandalize it. If the state spends money three times on something that it is supposed to do once, then all of us will be the ones paying,” she said.

    These projects are not the only way that China is transforming Lagos with its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global development strategy that aims to connect Asia, Europe, and Africa through trade and infrastructure.

    Another way is through cultural cooperation.

    It’s a sunny day in Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling megacity. The streets are filled with people, cars, and motorcycles. But amid the noise and chaos, there is a place where culture and harmony prevail.

    That place is the Huaxing Arts Troupe Nigeria (HATN), a Lagos-based institution that is dedicated to promoting cultural exchange between Nigeria and China. Led by Dr. Eric Ni, a Chinese businessman and philanthropist, HATN is composed of talented Nigerian and Chinese performers who showcase the rich and diverse cultural heritage of both countries.

    Huaxing Arts Troupe Nigeria (HATN) regularly holds performances and cultural exchange programmes in schools, communities, and public venues across Lagos. The troupe performs traditional and contemporary dances, music, and drama from both countries and organises workshops and competitions for the participants.

    One of the recent events that HATN held was a cultural exchange programme for pupils of Federal Housing Primary School and Awoyaya Primary School, Victoria Island. The event featured different onsite school activities such as cultural dance, martial arts display, musical drama, and other cultural performances. The pupils trouped out in their numbers to experience their local and Chinese cultural flavour. HATN also supported the schools with educational support materials just as some lucky students won mouthwatering prizes for their outstanding performances.

    Dr. Ni, who is also the chairman of Huaxing Arts Troupe Nigeria, said that the event was aimed at fostering mutual understanding and friendship between Nigeria and China through culture. He said that culture is a powerful tool for promoting sustainable socio-economic development, as it can help to connect people, transcend borders, and language barriers, and it can also help to inculcate values such as respect, tolerance, and understanding.

    “Today, we have witnessed the power of cultural exchange, as our talented HuaXing Arts Troupe showcased the vibrant and mesmerizing Chinese cultural dances, while the students of these esteemed schools brought forth the rich and diverse tapestry of Nigerian culture,” Dr. Ni said.

    He added that it is through these exchange programmes that they learn to appreciate and celebrate their differences, fostering understanding and unity among their nations. He also stressed that education is the gateway to a brighter future, and reiterated China’s commitment to continue to support the educational growth of Nigeria.

    China’s involvement in Lagos is a win-win situation for both sides. China is helping to develop Lagos’s infrastructure and economy while also gaining access to a large and dynamic market. Lagos is benefiting from China’s expertise and resources while also learning from its culture and experience.

    Together, China and Lagos are creating a more prosperous and harmonious future for Africa.

    Chinedu Ibeabuchi is a communication analyst


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