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Commuters fault Sanwo-Olu over underutilisation of Oshodi transport interchange

By Yetunde Ayobami Ojo 
24 April 2022   |   2:45 am
Residents of Lagos State have blamed the lackadaisical attitude of the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led government for the underutilisation of the multi-billion Naira

Residents of Lagos State have blamed the lackadaisical attitude of the Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu-led government for the underutilisation of the multi-billion Naira Oshodi Transport Interchange designed and constructed by Planet Projects Limited.

Articulated vehicles parked on the Mile 2-Second Rainbow section of Apapa-Oshodi Expressway. This has remained a constant feature despite the introduction of ETO by Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) and the Lagos State government. PHOTO: GBENGA SALAU


The three bus terminuses in the Interchange built with a view to creating a world-class business, tourism and transport district with a focus on transportation, security, and the environment, have not been operating at full capacity since it was commissioned. And many commuters conversant with the Oshodi transport hub, who spoke with The Guardian, say this is due to a lack of political will, on the part of Governor Sanwo-Olu.
 
In a follow up by The Guardian to an earlier story it published on Sunday, February 27, 2022, titled: ‘Commuters relish, agonise over Oshodi transport interchange,’ some commuters identified two major factors as being responsible for the under utilization.
 
Aside from the lack of political will on the part of Governor Sanwo-Olu to perfect the plans as conceived by his immediate past predecessor, Akinwunmi Ambode, for political reasons, they also faulted the elitist mentality of the current leadership of the ruling Lagos chapter of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which Governor Sanwo-Olu is alleged to have keyed into.
 
Some of the commuters said the fact that Ambode built such an edifice for the masses appears not to have gone down well with the elite in the party, who would have probably preferred it in areas like Ikoyi or Lekki.
 
It was alleged that the incumbent governor, from day one, developed a lukewarm attitude to the perfection of the Oshodi transport interchange since it was not his administration that originated it.
 
A motorist at Oshodi, Lanre Abodunrin said whatever dereliction confronting the three bus terminus at present should not be blamed on the contractor but on the incumbent government’s lack of political will to fully implement the details surrounding the project in accordance with the original plan.
 
According to him, “I can say Governor Sanwo-Olu is merely playing to the gallery because the projects are masses and not elitist-oriented.
    
“This government would have taken this project more seriously if it were sited in areas like Ikoyi or Lekki. But due to the fact that it is situated in a mass-dominated area like Oshodi, it is less important to the ruling party.”
 
Others said it was not surprising that the three terminals are not working to full capacity because the man who conceived and implemented the vision, Ambode fell out with the party, therefore everything attributed to him must not go beyond where he (Ambode) left it.
 
A commercial bus operator at terminal one, Jide, narrated how former Governor Babatunde Fashola took over Oshodi’s commercial hub from hoodlums, and street traders and also put a stop to trading activities on the roads and rail lines.
 

Jide also recalled how Fashola, succeeded in eradicating indiscriminate refuse dumps while Ambode came in, built the multi-billion Naira terminus to permanently transform the transportation system in Oshodi to international standard.
 
He also recalled how the immediate past governor used to visit the construction site. “Today, our amiable Sanwo-Olu and his team seem unbothered. We shall talk sense to them with our vote next year.”
 
SOME of the flaws concerning the terminals, which previous reports attributed to the contractors, are said to be the misdeeds of the government, which has either abandoned the original plans or deliberately refused to create an enabling environment for the operators to do the needful.
   
For instance, sources in the government explained that the terminal and Oshodi transport interchange can not function to full capacity as long as the ubiquitous public transport like danfo, molue and others are still operating in the area.
 
The original arrangement, which Sanwo-Olu is said to have jettisoned, was to make Oshodi the hub of transportation that will link the Murtala Muhammad Airport, the Apapa Sea Port, Sango through Agege motorway and the Island.
  
It was gathered that Ambode’s government had concluded arrangements to acquire all the property besides the road from Oshodi to Cappa leading to Fatai Atere Way that will connect Mushin road with the hope of expanding the road and linking it up to Airport road through Ladipo Market.
 
The previous government also had in plan to connect the road network and BRT lane coming from CMS to Iponri through to Funsho Avenue to link Mushin from where it will connect to Mushin road and connect Toyota Bus Stop in Ladipo Market. This will provide easy access to the Airport Road and Murtala Muhammad International Airport.
 
In a similar vein, The Guardian learnt that the past government had also concluded an arrangement to extend the BRT corridor to Mile Two and the Apapa Seaport, to Oshodi and Ladipo. From there, one could easily connect the Airport Road to Murtala Muhammad Airport or Ikeja. There was a plan to relocate Ladipo Spare parts Market from its present location. The aim was to create interconnectivity from Victoria Island to Mushin and Oshodi, and from Sango to Ikeja linking up with Airport road and then to Oshodi. There was also an arrangement to link Oshodi to Mile 2 and the Apapa Sea Port through the Oshodi-Apapa expressway. Motorists going to the airport can connect Airport road at Ladipo using the Apakun Bridge while those coming from Mushin, Ilupeju and Victoria Island will easily navigate through Mushin to link Ladipo and connect Airport Road.
 
The Guardian reliably gathered that the previous government had perfected the plans and that construction had even started before it was denied a second term.
    
According to the arrangement, the three terminuses in Oshodi were expected to be the hub and meeting point where millions of commuters will converge before proceeding to their various destinations in any part of Lagos and or outside the state. Those going to either the sea or airport could also use the Oshodi interchange. The ongoing rail line project was expected to have added beauty to the interchange but sadly Sanwo-Olu’s government failed to pursue the vision.
 
It was also gathered that the same methodology would apply to the Agege motorway where most structures close to the road would have been acquired and the road network expanded to create passages for the BRT buses. In line with the original plan, only government certified BRT buses and other vehicles are to operate along the corridors mentioned and not the ubiquitous danfo and molue vehicles.

The commuters also lamented how the incumbent government deliberately closed its eyes and allowed commercial motorcycle operators have field days along the Lagos Airport road, such that the motorbike operators now ply one way indiscriminately from Ladipo to NARCO Bus Stop.

      
Oshodi is arguably the busiest transport hub in Nigeria with over 5,600 buses loading daily and spread across 13 different motor parks. It attracts over 200,000 passengers boarding daily, about 1 million pedestrians, and 76 per cent of its area is dedicated to transport and related activities.
 
Speaking on the bad state of the roads surrounding Oshodi transport interchange, a transporter, Femi Oluwatope said, “Blaming Planet Project and or other contractors is like leaving the substance to chase the shadow. There is no way all the commercial buses will convert significant portions of the roads into parking and loading space and the road will not be damaged. For instance, asphalt doesn’t like engine oil and on a daily basis, these rickety buses that are not expected to stay long on the road, discharge their oil on the road. That is partially responsible for the constant damages. What can the contractor do about this?”
  
There were allegations that elevators were not functioning. But some operators in the Interchange told The Guardian that they were actually working but “are often switched off because the project is underutilised.”
 
For the transport interchange to function at full capacity, some of the commuters suggested that the Lagos State government need to wake up to its responsibility by adhering to the original plan, take away indiscriminate commercial activities and return to total sanity as Fashola and Ambode did instead of allowing the public to put the blame on the contractors.
 
Meanwhile, a government source who preferred anonymity, said the administration is working out plans to bring sanity, not only to Oshodi but to other transport interchanges across the state.
 
He pointed out that the ongoing construction work at Ikeja, among others, was in line with that objective. He noted that it was erroneous to say Governor Sanwo-Olu deviated from the original plans of his predecessor or to also accuse the incumbent of having an elitist mentality.