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‘Review transport fares, structures on Oshodi-Abule Egba BRT corridor’

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Commuters plying the recently inaugurated Oshodi-Abule Egba Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) corridor have urged the Lagos State government to review the fares and structures to enhance patronage and movement.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had, last Tuesday, inaugurated the 13.6km BRT corridor, deploying 550 high and medium-capacity buses, and introducing an upgraded e-ticketing system to reduce travel time for residents and visitors in the commercial city.

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A few days after the inauguration, activities have yet to begin in full capacity despite the 550 buses deployed in the axis. The few vehicles on the road were traced to the low turnout of commuters at the terminal due to poor awareness.

Before the project was inaugurated, commuters spent between two to three hours on the strategic route during peak periods, a development that affected healthy living and livelihoods for road users who had to access the route to make daily trips into Lagos from neighbouring Ogun State. The distress was compounded by the ban on motorcycles on the route.

But with the commencement of BRT operations on the corridor, commuters will enjoy a 75 per cent reduction in travel time from about two-three hours during peak periods to an average of 30 minutes.

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A commuter, Kazeem Soremekun, who spoke with The Guardian on a trip from the Kontagoa bus station in Alimosho Local Government Area to Oshodi terminus 2, praised the state government for the critical investment, adding that the reconstruction of some bus stations would improve movement.

“This is a transformative move by the government and a great boost for transportation in Lagos; but there are some concerns with the structure of some of these bus stops (bus stations). At about three or four stops, the driver had to slow down totally, and this is not helping with movement.”

Corroborating Soremekun’s views, another commuter who sells baby products on Lagos Island, Wasiu Kolawole, said: “The buses are finding it very difficult to move around some bus stations. It’s so narrow that they (the bus drivers) have to be very careful at some bus stations, not all, and it is impeding movement.”

On pricing, Kolawole, however, urged the state government to review transport fares charged on the corridor, saying that “the price is on the high side. I boarded from Iyana-Ipaja at the rate of N200. I think N150 will be okay. From Abule-Egba to Oshodi, N200 will be okay as the cost of fares as against N300.”

Also speaking on the pricing system, a sea operations officer who also joined the trip, Ibrahim Adegbindin, observed: “I was shocked when I took my first trip on the bus on Wednesday. I was charged N300 for the service from Oshodi to Abule Egba contrary to my expectation of paying maybe N200. It would be better if the price is reduced since they are not in competition with the Danfo buses.”

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In contrast, Iyabode Lijadu said that the N300 maximum charge on each ride is appropriate. She added that the operations would address hardship and the exploitation of commuters by drivers of yellow buses on the Oshodi-Abule Egba route.

“Our people are never satisfied. They want more from a service that is already okay, but they are not looking at the fact that the yellow commercial buses wouldn’t be able to take undue advantage on passengers anymore. The BRT is going to stop conductors’ penchant for hiking fares at will.”

Commenting further, Lijadu urged the state government to extend the service from Abule-Egba to Tollgate, a boundary area connecting Lagos and Ogun states, due to the strategic nature of the Lagos-Abeokuta expressway.

“I am looking forward to seeing these buses move from here (Abule-Egba) to Tollgate or Sango-Ota to take care of the stress people face getting into Lagos from Ogun State. I hope the state government consider this kind of investment. Once this is done, life and livelihood will improve significantly.”

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While highlighting the benefits of the initiative, Taiwo Fadahunsi, a transport worker who boarded one of the buses from the Oshodi terminus, appealed to the government to address the influx of motorcycle (okada) riders on the dedicated BRT lane for safety of passengers and restoration of sanity.

While commending the state government for the initiative’s comfortability and convenience, Glory Mex emphasized the need to manage and sustain the investment. Also for Lekan Adisa, it is about comfortability and convenience with both gains drawing him to the project initiated by the Ambode administration and completed by the Sanwo-Olu administration.

He said: “Despite the high price, I am settling for this bus because it is comfortable and allow me to move around the city with convenience. By God’s grace, I would still board it again on Monday (today) and that is why I loaded extra money on the Lagos Travel Card to save me the stress of queuing up as all I would have to do is tap in.”

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