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‘Lagos urged to subsidise public transportation’

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Lagos state government has been urged to subsidise public transportation going by the increasing population of road users.

Director and Chief Executive Officer, Primero Transport Services Limited, Fola Tinubu, disclosed in an interview with The Guardian, in Lagos, in an effort to help the state government restructure the public transportation system, and bring relief to commuters who pays high cost of transportation amid lingering chaotic traffic situation.

Tinubu said he has observed in the last three years that there are some political decisions that needed to be made by the Lagos State government identifying one of them as the issue of subsidy for public transportation.

According to him, “All over the world, Lagos is probably the only major city in the world that I know that is trying to run a public transport system that is not providing any subsidy for the operators”.

He described the subsidy as a social function which cannot be transferred to a private company.

Tinubu said: “It is either you let the market work itself or you provide subsidy; right now Lagos State government is trying to have it both ways and we are in the middle of it. Anywhere in the world public transport is subsidised by the government.  So it is a political decision that Lagos State government would have to make. But to really get handle of public transportation in Lagos, you need it.”

In his words: “Lagos State have up to 22 million people moving up and down, you cannot all rely on cars, they need to finish the light rail that they started and also encourage more buses. Because according to the analysis done by the state government, Lagos actually needs about 7000 buses running up and down on daily basis including our own 434, excluding the one Lagos State is bringing now which I don’t know how many.

“I believe what Lagos State is trying to do is to have three major operators of buses in Lagos and which we would be one of them. Exactly how they want us to be part of it, they have not told us,” he said.

As part of measures to key into the state government’s bus reform, Tinubu said: “We on our own have submitted a proposal to run the BRT from Abule Egba to Oshodi axis. We are engaging the state government to get this done.

Besides, he revealed that the company is set to assemble buses in Nigeria by the end of the year.

The Primero boss said: “We have signed a MoU with Yutong buses to start assembling buses in Nigeria and we hope before the end of the year, we would start assembling buses in Nigeria especially because of the duties paid on the buses, which is like 33 per cent high.

“We think it is cheaper to assembly them here in Nigeria. Yutong is the biggest bus manufacturer in the world. This is the first time; they will actually put their own money in investing in an assembling plant outside China. We would start assembling the buses in Nigeria.

“It is a long term business; initially we would look at what the company needs in terms of production, expanding production to West Africa,” Tinubu disclosed.


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