Classic Buses for Classic Commuters

Lagos State Government has taken a major step towards easing commuters’ pains. Last Thursday; it launched 434 air-conditioned buses and inaugurated the expanded Mile 12-Ikorodu Road.

Governor, Akinwumi Ambode Governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola and All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu performed the ceremony.

The buses, tagged BRT Classic or BRT Upgrade, according to the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr Dayo Mobereola, are not owned by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), or the government, but provided by a private firm on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). The government provided the infrastructure while the private operators brought in the vehicles to run according to LAMATA’s guidelines.

This, he said, is the hallmark of the new thinking and commitment of the government to providing safe, reliable, comfortable and affordable motorised options for discerning Lagosians who love comfort.

The option, according to him, became imperative due to the gridlock over the last decade. He said not only would the government improve its presence in the sector, it would also ensure the reduction of vehicles on the roads, which would in no small measure ensure cleaner air and environmental preservation, because of reduced emission of carbon-monoxide and other green house gasses into the atmosphere.

Mobereola said the new path ws conceptualised in 2008, when the government began the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Scheme. He, however, admitted that “along the line we got derailed and lost that essential part of the scheme that would have attracted it to the business class and professional groups. While we concentrated attention on providing service to the masses, artisans and traders who had no opportunity and may not be able to get their own cars, we neglected to serve a critical segment who might have their cars, or have the means to buy, but may have decided against it if government had provided an alternative that is comfortable, reliable and efficient”.

He said the result was the huge deluge of private vehicles, hundreds of which are added daily by those who have the capacity to acquire private vehicles. Mobereola said the government was determined to make motorised transportation the hub of mass transit in the state, while the waterways and the light rail would be introduced to add to public transportation alternatives for residents of the state.

The BRT, which was introduced on March 17, 2008, on the Ikorodu-CMS route, Mobereola said, has to date carried no fewer than 350 million passengers, and these ones on the daily basis, will carry almost 450,000 passengers.

According to the commissioner, the new thinking is that a city with 22 million people, 60 percent of who must move from one point to the other needs efficient, reliable, accessible and safe transportation system.

Assuring Lagosians of government’s commitment, he said the Ambode administration will in the coming months flood the state with modern and comfortable BRTs adding: “this is just an example of what we planned for Lagos State”.

Transportation experts agreed no less with Mobereola, they argued that if traffic gridlocks could be felt in developed economies of the world with advanced and fully integrated modes of transportation, Lagos with wholesale reliance on the oldest mode of transportation should be expected to worsen in the next decade if government refuses to deepen its involvement and provide leadership in the sector.

Speaking on the road,the commissioner praised the people for their understanding and forbearance all through the planning and execution of the newly expanded road that now has the BRT road at the median, adding that 10 stakeholders’ fora in all were held, all to ensure the buys-in of residents.

“Managing the people while construction was going on simultaneously was a great challenge. We learnt from the mistakes of the past – mostly operational.

“We had 10 stakeholders’ fora, three before the construction work started and seven during the project. We were engaging the people at every stage and they were guiding us. It was close project that involved the community because we needed their buy-in for us to succeed.

He said the project will improve the traffic situation along that corridor. As more people enter the BRT buses, the road will be freer; we are also doing the engineering on the road, especially at the junctions to increase the capacity of the road and make the way big enough to accommodate more traffic.

He said the N30 billion project which was financed by the French Development Agency (AFD), the World Bank and the state government, would enhance the mobility of the people and reduce travel time between CMS and Ikorodu by 60 percent, reducing a journey which presently takes an average of two and half hours to 45 minutes. He said the BRT will give priority to public transport, which is a mass carrier for a lot of people.

Majority Leader of the Lagos State House of Assembly representing Ikorodu Constituency 1, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade said the project will add value to the area.He, therefore, challenged the people to maintain the project to encourage the government.

The Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Kabir Sotobi, praised the government for the success of the project and called for the execution of the Ipakodo jetty, which  he said would further boost the transportation initiative of the government.

Representative of Mr Yemi Adeola, the Managing Director of Sterling Bank Plc, (the financier of the buses), Mr Lanre Adesanya thanked the state government for giving the bank the opportunity to partner in making life better for the people of the state. He said the project would benefit no fewer than 4000 families directly and provide jobs for thousands more who would work as ticketers, vendors, mechanics, even as he said the bank has reduced the prevalence of cash in the system.



Source: The Nation Nigeria

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