Oshodi… commuters’ nightmare nears end
Folashade (surname withheld), in her early 30s, was early in the year a victim of rape at Oshodi. She was coming from a salon when two gunmen attacked her while waiting for a bus to Airport Road that fateful evening. “Some hoodlums with gun accosted me and were hitting me. I quickly surrendered my bag to them but they weren’t ready to let me go as one of them said ‘come here, we are going to rape you. I struggled with them as they led me to a garden under the flyover.
“I was held down for close to two hours. I even heard security patrol vans but nobody knew what was happening in the bush. After they were done with me and I was going, I sighted a police van at the end of the bridge and told the policemen what happened but all they said was ‘sorry o.’
An eyewitness of the criminal activities that go on daily at Oshodi who simply identified himself as Okeke narrated his experience thus: “I was coming back from work and there was traffic. Right in front of me at Oshodi; a group of three young men in their 20s attacked a man.
“The man struggled with them for some time. He swerved to the other side of the road, yet these guys followed him, determined to rob him. Eventually one of the miscreants went to the other side, smashed the side window of the passenger seat, took the man’s iPad while the other two also smashed the driver’s window and took the man’s phone and wallet.”
This is just a few of the sad tales from Lagosians who have had horrible experiences passing through Oshodi, which many have linked to a failed transportation system in the axis. Over the years, Oshodi has been a nightmare for commuters. Many would most times, opt for a longer route to escape the menace of miscreants, who usually rob during odd hours, especially in traffic.
Studies have shown that Oshodi is the busiest transport interchange in West Africa with over 5,600 buses spread across 13 different motor parks loading daily. It has over 200,000 passengers boarding per day, with about one million pedestrians.
To address these menace, the outgoing administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, decided to unveil the Oshodi regeneration project in May 2016 with three world-class terminals to curb indiscriminate parking and picking up of passengers and give a new face to Oshodi.
When The Guardian visited the terminals at the weekend, it was discovered that provisions were made for bus lanes, lay-bys, green parks to soften the environment, proper waste management, fencing and a dedicated security team. A shopping mall covering over two hectares will operate from the old Mosafejo settlement. The mall is scheduled to have recreation and entertainment facilities, among others.
Speaking with newsmen, Managing Director/CEO of Planet Project Limited, Biodun Otunola, said the interchange with three terminals, when operational, would serve an average of one million people per day. “Initially, each of the terminals would serve 300,000 passengers daily and every hour, 300 buses would be departing from the terminals.
“The initiative is targeted at achieving a 24-hour economy, which would improve the life of the people. Terminal one is for intercity operation, this means that if you are traveling to any part of Nigeria including West African coast, you will be able to get the bus service that would take you, while terminal two and three would be for intra-city (within Lagos), operations,” he said.
This new facelift to public transportation in Lagos was last month activated with the launch of Lagos Bus Services Limited (LBSL), a Lagos State government company. LBS is the brain behind the new, medium and high capacity buses steadily making an appearance across the Lagos metropolis.
Launched on April 24, 2019, by President Muhammadu Buhari, the buses are a key component of the Bus Reform Project, with the injection of modern buses and terminals. To ease the daily movement of millions of Lagosians, 800 of the expected 5,000 buses have been delivered to the state, 50 of which have been deployed on five routes across Lagos as part of a pilot phase. Procured with government funds, the Brazilian-built Marcopolo buses are equipped with air conditioning and priority seating for the physically challenged, elderly, and pregnant women. Each bus has six emergency exits and a first aid kit, free WiFi, television, and CCTV cameras linked to a control centre to monitor everything going on in the bus with every seat having a dedicated USB port for charging phones.
According to the Managing Director, Mr. Idowu Oguntona, “the company’s mission is to provide smart and sustainable bus transportation solutions to meet the needs of the modern city of Lagos. To achieve this, we have created a competitive space where urban mobility will guarantee a market for mass transit operators, with whom we would make available the means to move Lagos residents in comfort, with affordable pricing.”
The initial 800 buses would be leased to reputable private operators through an operating lease model and will use three depots located at Ilupeju, Anthony, and Yaba. Operations will be driven by technology, service delivery and exciting rider experience. An Intelligent Transport System (ITS) under which the new buses will operate will be deployed.
This includes an electronic information system, which provides real time passenger information to commuters; such as estimates of bus arrival and departure times as well as information about the nature and causes of service delays. Electronic ticketing will be put in place to ensure prompt boarding of passengers and revenue protection.
To achieve the goal of seamless passenger movement, the state has been divided into five Strategic Transport Zones – Ikeja, Lagos Island, Oshodi, Abule Egba, and strategic linkages (other routes). The zones are the major transport hubs in Lagos. Each hub is characterized by major transport activities and also serve as prominent key destinations of commuters. Each of the zones also contain transport sub-hubs.
Oguntona is confident that the new Lagos Buses would boost the confidence of Lagos residents in the use of public transportation facilities. “Perhaps we are not too far off from a time when commuters will park their cars and use the new buses for their daily commute.”