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The Lagos new public transportation narrative

On assumption of office in May 2015, the Akinwunmi Ambode-administration was confronted with a huge traffic situation that was further compounded by the activities of criminals taking advantage of the situation to rob commuters and others

Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said he plans to banish the buses by the end of this year because they are “not acceptable and befitting for a megacity”. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI (Photo credit should read PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

Sir: On assumption of office in May 2015, the Akinwunmi Ambode-administration was confronted with a huge traffic situation that was further compounded by the activities of criminals taking advantage of the situation to rob commuters and others.

In response to the situation, the state government identified that the situation required strategic and creative intervention that would not only be diagnostic and curative, but backed by proper policy articulation and focused implementation which must offer immediate, short and permanent resolution of the unenviable traffic nightmare.

The Traffic Summit held in November 2015 at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island, Lagos, was an integral part of the policy response of the state government to the traffic gridlock challenges. It was the administration’s determination that the summit should set a new course for an aggressive public transportation template as the pathway to the much desired improved and modernised transportation system befitting of the state, capable of driving rapid economic growth and which will make mobility predictable, safer and comparable to the best transportation systems in other mega cities. The submissions of the summit were very holistic, detailing far-reaching policy recommendations and an elaborate implementation strategies backed by a robust funding circle. It was the dedication of the Ambode administration to the full implementation of the summit recommendations that is today changing the transportation narratives of the state for good.

Lagos is currently pursuing an integrated affordable multi-modal transport system that will ensure that citizens arrive their destinations in the least possible time frame, using the state public transport in concord to a former Mayor of Bogota postulation that, a developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transport.

Consequently, Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, LAMATA and Lagos Bus Services Limited, LBSL, have been working assiduously on the gradual re-fleeting of the 14-18-seater yellow mini bus with a 40-Passenger Medium and 80-Passenger High Capacity buses to reduce the number of buses plying the state’s roads, improve ecology of the state through reduction in carbon emission, improve the travel time and activate Private Public Partnership (PPP). This will likewise encourage many more people to leave their cars at home and use the buses thereby reducing traffic congestion.

The prototype bus have been identified, inspected and approved while contract for supply of the first set of buses has been awarded. With the take-off of the 820 high capacity buses from the Ikeja Bus Terminal in September, Lagos seems set to alter its transportation landscape. The buses may also become the biggest money spinner for the Akinwunmi Ambode-led administration.
Another major feature of the Bus Reform Project is its job creation component as drivers and Bus Attendants, who will be professionally trained and well kitted, will be deployed on the air conditioned buses. As the Project has factored in their regular maintenance, other corporate bodies, aside the Bus Operating Companies would be involved in its sub-activities such as ticketing, vulcanizing, cleaning/washing etc, to complement the efficiency of the buses.

The narrative of finding solution to transportation challenge in the state, meanwhile, is not limited to road transport. For instance, the state has achieved 95% completion level on the Mile 2-National Theatre segment of the light rail project. Focus has, therefore, shifted to National Theatre-Marina segment which has attained 65% completion level.  Currently, on-going works include boring of piles, construction of pile caps, piers and pier caps, pre-inspection of pier positions to determine underground utilities as we as boring of piles across the lagoon among others. As well, all bailey beam form works have been completed at Marina while fabrication of steel cages and casings, painting of reinforcement with antirust, seawall strengthening, and the removal of shipwrecks in the lagoon are all on course.
Rasak Musbau wrote from Features Unit, Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Ikeja.

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