Mixed reactions trail ban of inter-state transport operators on Ikorodu road
For infrequent visitors to the Jibowu area of Lagos, an inter-state transport hub, it is no longer the usual messy corridor with heavy traffic.
This is sequel to the recent relocation of the operators of inter-state transport services along the axis, which has seen the evacuation of transporters without designated parks.
A visit to the area showed that the directive has restored sanity there, while barricade wire had been fixed under the Jibowu bridge, which was used as parking lot for transport companies that operated in the area.
For the registered operators in Fadeyi, Jibowu and Yaba with designated parks, the restriction and relocation of inter-state commercial vehicles operating along the route to Ojota and Ojodu Berger motor parks is a welcome development, as they were exempted due to their coordinated operating system.
Some registered operators, who spoke to The Guardian, expressed optimism that the directive would not affect their business, as they assured of full compliance with the order.
There was excitement, especially among the drivers and bus conductors, who express their happiness on the latest development, saying their competitors have been chased away and they were now free from the troubles of touts.
Public Relations Officer of Ekeson Transport Limited, Jibowu Branch, Farook Bikini said
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s decision to choose Ojota or Ojodu Berger due to littering and crowded environment was a welcome development.
“It is the unregistered transporters that cause the gridlock along the route and this is due to not having designated parks in the area. They park along the road, causing heavy traffic. They are a menace to the big and registered companies like ours.”
“Again, they don’t pay taxes and as such, they make transport business frustrating due to the fact that they don’t pay for where they load, which is why their charges are usually lesser than ours. So, it is a wonderful idea to ban all unregistered transporters from loading at Jibowu,” he added.
He said the decision was a good idea, pointing out that they hijack customers by reducing the transport fares and that while they charge N10,000 from Lagos to Abuja, the unregistered transporters charge below N8,000 to attract more customers.
That is because they are not registered and they don’t pay taxes and park fees, it favours them while rendering their compliant competitors’ business unprofitable.
Chinedu, a driver with Peace Mass Transit, said the decision ws a good one, as it would help free the road of the perennial gridlock that is common with the axis.
“I’m really happy with the government over this particular decision. You can imagine a big transport company like ours struggling for passengers and space with small buses that are not even recognised; buses that don’t have parking space and don’t pay tax. I am happy, they should go to Ojota or Ojodu Berger and make trouble there,” he said.
Somto, a Southeast bound passenger with God is Good Motors, said in spite of the high fare the transport company charges, he prefers traveling with them due to the assurance of comfort and replacement of the bus when their bus breaks down on the road unlike the unregistered transport operators that would not refund the fare or provide another bus for the passengers.
“I have tried one of the unregistered inter-state transporters before because their fare was cheaper. But it was a terrible journey. The bus had a lot of faults and the journey was a rough one. Also, they don’t stop you at designated bus stops where passengers can easily find a bike or a commercial bus to their final destination,” he said.
Commenting on the issue, Adebunmi Thomas, a passenger at the park said the ban was a welcome development, as it had significantly reduced the traffic gridlock on the route.
“As a matter of fact, the action is very good because since government announced the ban, there has been free flow of traffic, especially at Jibowu. Before the ban, we used to face gridlock but now even if you pass through the place at night during peak period of traffic, it is now very free. The action is the best, as far as I’m concerned,” she said.
Expressing concern over the affected transporters, a source at Abia Line, who pleaded anonymity, said the state government’s decision for transport operators without registered offices and parks to move to Ojota was not favorable.
“It is a bad development, many of these transporters who were affected may go out of business in the shortest time, as they would not be able to survive the new policy. Things may be difficult for them,” the source said.
Akintunde Adekunle, a traveller in one of the registered motor parks, noted that the directive has advantage and disadvantage, but is in the overall best interest of the people, adding that it would no doubt go a long way in reducing traffic. He, however, urged the state government to put measures in place to mitigate the impact of the ban on travellers.
“The advantage is that the roads would now be free of traffic, while the disadvantage is that those travellers, who don’t have money to pay for the high transport fares charged by the registered transport companies, would have go to Ojota or Ojodu-Berger where they could get cheap fares. This will create additional expenses for them,” he said.
At the usual busy Fadeyi-Jibowu Park, some passengers who usually partonise the unregistered operators were seen returning home, when they learnt that they had to go to Ojota or Ojodu-Berger Central Parks to board bus for their journey.
Unhappy about the situation, some families lamented how the directive has affected them. They said it was not convenient for some of them who live around the area and want to travel with their families to go to Ojota or Berger to board a bus, adding that it will create extra cost for them.
Solomon, one of the affected transporters, said the Jibowu hub was established several decades ago as a residential and business location, stressing that it was wrong for government to chase them out.
“The government should go after the illegal operartors and leave those with parking spaces alone. The Ojota Central Park to which the government wants us to move is not very organised and convenient, especially for the passengers. The decision is affecting all transporters, because they cannot access their offices, as they have been barricaded.
“Government is taking the issue too far by barricading of the premises of the transporters; they should call the transporters to a roundtable discussion, state what the problems are, and tell them the best way to operate so that all parties involved will be happy. It should not be a one-sided operation,” he added
Captain Oluwatobi, a transporter who operates around the hub said, “The hub has employed more people and many feeding their families from what they make here daily. What government is doing is bad, if only we can conduct ourselves.
“There was no notice before the directive. It is not convenient moving to Ojota because it is too congested, if not we would gladly move with all we have invested and the properties we built over the years. Government should give us time to organise ourselves till after Christmas for those that have offices here, because we spent thousands on the property for this business.”
For Chuks, a businessman, “Jibowu is an International land port and the banning of inter-state buses on the axis has affected and would affect many businesses. He explained that transporters are not able to load passengers leading to dwindling business fortunes.
“They are jobless and stranded because they don’t have any other business, while passengers have to spend more money to go to Ojota,” he said.
Akwamuzor, a passenger, called on the state government to provide alternatives for the transporters, saying some have invested hundreds of millions over the years and it will be improper to shut them down.
A transport officer at Greener Line Transport, Phillip Ehis, said the policy was a welcome development, but the implementation is being done in haste, adding that government should also take into consideration some travellers, who may not be buoyant enough to afford the fares of registered transports operators like his company.
“I don’t like the fact that there is always traffic on that particular road because of them, but sending them all away to as far as Ojota and Ojodu-Berger is not going to be fair on them. In as much as they are unregistered, people still board their buses because they are cheaper than the bigger transporters.
“This is their source of livelihood and going down to Ojota and Ojodu Berger would just make them lose customers because people who patronise them will now find it hard going down to the new location, especially when they consider the expenses they would incur before travelling and before you know it, these transporters would be out of business.”
For Akeem, a driver with Ovia North-East, government should come to a reasonable and positive agreement with the affected transporters, which will help to avoid stress and extra-cost for the passengers and transporters.
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