Six months after #EndSARS, commuters bear brunt of burnt Oyingbo BRT Terminus
Though Nigeria has moved on aftermath the #EndSARS protest that shook the country to its foundation, especially its commercial capital, Lagos, where the damages were more.
However, the wreckages still abound across the state, one of which is the burnt Oyingbo Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) terminus.
Exactly 8:30a.m on Wednesday, October 21, last year, hoodlums hiding under the cover of the protest, set ablaze the ultra-modern terminus, destroying hundreds of newly acquired buses yet to be deployed to routes, but parked in the terminus situated behind the railway line in Oyingbo, Mainland Local Council.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, had a day before the incident, imposed a 24-hour curfew, following violent attacks on some state and privately-owned facilities in the state, including Police stations in Orile-Iganmu, Igando, Mafoluku, Ikotun and Ijegun, among others.
The curfew took effect from 4p.m. on Tuesday, October 20, as a measure to curtail the violence that trailed the protest in Lagos, but the miscreants defied the curfew aimed at restoring peace and normalcy.
According to Commissioner for Information, Gbenga Omotosho, a total of 80 BRT vehicles were destroyed, made up of 23 big buses and 57 medium-size buses, noting that 57 of the 80 buses were at the Oyingbo terminus.
He said while the big buses cost around $200,000 each, the medium-size buses cost around $100,000 each. With the exchange at the time of the incident, the 80 destroyed BRT buses were valued at N3.929 billion.
When The Guardian visited the terminus on Wednesday, activities appears to be gradually returning, as two mid-size buses were seen parked inside the terminus. Though the usual bustling associated with the terminus was absent, as only security operatives and a few individuals believed to be staff of the Lagos Bus Service Limited (LBSL) were seen around the ticketing booth area, with petty traders at the exit gate opposite First Bank Plc on Apapa road.
A security operative at the terminus, who pleaded anonymity, said operations resumed last month and normal loading has since started. The officer added that consultants have visited the terminus and submitted their reports, while staff await further directives from the state government.
Unlike before the carnage when business activities was usually beehive due to the status of Oyingbo Market as one of the busiest in the state, there were no commercial activities within and around the precinct of the terminus.
A middle-aged man, who identified himself as simply Justice, sells grounded pepper directly across the road. He said: “Before the protest, we were by walls of the terminus, but after the protest, the Police, agbero and Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) pursued us.
“Though business is picking up gradually, it is not like before the protest. As you can see, I’m already packing my things to go home.”
Some commuters lamented the level of the destruction, saying the action has subjected them to a lot of suffering.
For Mrs. Adenike Oyekanmi, boarding buses to and from work has become a chaotic experience since the buses and terminus were burnt. She stated: “Before the protest, I usually board a BRT bus from this terminus every morning, but since the destruction of the buses, we have been faced with challenge commuting easily.
“Even before the EndSARS protest, the buses were not enough; now we pay more to get to our destinations.
“Before, I spent N500 or less, but now, I pay more to get to work, especially when it is peak period and there is rush. From the terminus, I would board a bus to Obalende, where I would join another one going to Lekki, where I work,” she added.
According to Oyekanmi, unlike BRT terminus that provides shade for commuters, danfo and other buses do not, as they are always on the move to avoid being apprehended by the traffic officers and other law enforcement agents.
“The coming of BRT really changed so many things about transporting, especially in this part of Lagos, as it brought sanity and orderliness. I mean, you board a bus without being pushed or shoved by another passenger, who is eager to get into the bus before you.
“Since the terminus was burnt, we have been subjected back to the initial challenge; everybody is rushing, pushing and shoving in their bid to get into a bus, even when it is on the move. Government should try and put back the terminus in order,” she stated.
On his part, Jide Omosuwon, said the absence of the BRT services has made life, especially transit mobility, difficult, adding that prior to the razing of the terminus and the BRT buses, the quality of life was greatly improve, in terms of saving travel time, inhaling of greenhouse gas and local air pollutant emissions.
“Due to the dedicated lanes, which separate the BRT buses from mixed traffic, allowing them to travel more quickly, I have been patronising the system. The pre-paid boarding and level platforms, reminiscent of a metro station, rather than the traditional bus stop, speed up passenger boarding, while traffic signal management that prioritises BRT buses and high-frequency bus service minimises waiting times.
“Unlike other buses, the BRT systems has helped corporate passengers from being ruffled or messed up whilst trying to board a bus. The buses are air-conditioned, so you look relaxed while transiting to and from work,” he added.
On government’s plan to revamp the terminus, Omotoso said: “We are still working on restoring all the things that were damaged in Lagos during the EndSARS Protest.
“That is why the governor inaugurated an eight-man Board of the Lagos Rebuild Trust Fund, headed by Mr. Yemi Cardoso, a former commissioner in the state and Chairman of Citibank Nigeria. ”