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Intermodal transportation… Commuting with comfort in Lagos

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Given the mass of people commuting daily from one part of the city to another and considering its megacity status, Lagos is undoubtedly overdue for an efficient intermodal transport system.

It is against this backdrop that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration’s efforts to make transiting from one mode of public transport to another in the city, seamless, becomes heartwarming and enthralling.

While past governments made concerted efforts to make other means of transportation attractive through huge investment in water and rail transport, Sanwo-Olu has been deliberate in the connectivity of all modes. An example is the latest attempt to ensure that the Red Rail Line project is connected to major bus terminals. This means a commuter can alight from a train and, without leaving the terminal, join a bus heading his or her new direction.

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This is evident in the Yaba Bus Terminal that was unveiled on Tuesday by Sanwo-Olu. In his address at the commissioning ceremony, the governor said: “The facility being commissioned today is a world-class terminal from which buses will originate and terminate. I am happy to inform you that in the next 18 months, the Yaba Bus Terminal will be integrated with the Red Line Yaba Rail Station that is being constructed a few metres from this place. Once the rail line is completed, passengers will be able to choose the transportation mode they prefer to get to their destinations.”

Sanwo-Olu said adding the Yaba Bus Terminal to the projects executed under the state transportation master plan marks another milestone in his administration’s drive to consistently provide ultramodern infrastructure to meet the transportation needs of the people. 

The governor stated that the vision is to provide an integrated and intermodal public transportation system for the city, which will give the people transportation choices and easy connectivity. 

“This vision is clearly encapsulated in our T.H.E.M.E.S agenda with transportation and effective traffic management as its first pillar. Any visitor to Yaba will confirm the huge changes that have occurred in the last few years particularly in this location where we are seated. No one would have thought that a magnificent structure such as this bus terminal could be sited here. However, this bus terminal has become necessary for the daily commuting of our teeming population, and this Government is proud to have facilitated its construction.

“Yaba evokes a lot of memories. It is a major commercial, transportation and entertainment hub, as well as the home of various educational institutions. Yaba features prominently in the Lagos State Transportation Master Plan because of its peculiar nature as a melting pot of various commercial and academic activities that has recently metamorphosed into a tech hub. Its evolution over the years places a lot of responsibility on Government to ensure that its dynamism and growth are sustained through balanced development.”

According to the governor, the bus terminal reflected the state’s vision for regulated bus services, which the state government currently champions and the terminal mirrors the standard bus services provided in the past by the now defunct Lagos City Transport Service (LCTS) and the Lagos State Transport Services (LSTC). 

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“The goal of our administration’s Bus Reform Initiative is to bring our bus transport system up to par with what obtains internationally. The initiative is a subset of our Strategic Transport Master Plan (STMP)- the all-encompassing guide for everything being done to reform our bus transport sector. 

“You will recall that I recently launched the First and Last Mile (FLM) Bus Scheme, a community-based transportation initiative to take commuters from the inner routes to the main transit corridors to join either the standard or BRT buses to their destinations. In addition, we are working on completing the Blue and Red Rail Lines out of our six rail and monorail lines. 

“In the last two years, we have been working assiduously to complete these transportation projects. This shows our commitment to their completion and eventual operation. 

I acknowledge the support of Lagosians while these projects are being implemented. I am aware of what you go through on a daily basis, and I apologise for the inconveniences. I assure you that these projects are for the good of everybody, and all that is required is your patience and support.”  

Sanwo-Olu appealed to the citizens to protect the bus terminal and all other projects being executed by the government, noting that it is a collective responsibility to protect state infrastructure. “If you notice any abnormality, do not hesitate to say something about it. It is your civic duty to report wrongdoing and the destruction of our public assets/infrastructure to the security agencies and government officials for prompt action.”  

Commenting during the ceremony, the Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde stated that the terminal was completed due to the commitment and support of the governor for public transportation. Providing some background, Oladeinde revealed that the contract for the terminal was awarded in March 2017, but when the governor was sworn-in in 2019, there was no significant construction activity going on. 

“Since Mr. Governor is an affirmed apostle of continuity, he gave the marching order for the completion of this imposing terminal. This Yaba Bus terminal is one of the new bus terminals constructed with the objective of providing quality bus infrastructure that will support the Bus Reform Initiative of the Lagos State Government. 

“This project is geared towards the provision of a safe and quality public transport infrastructure that is comfortable and reliable. The bus reform initiative is designed to re-organise bus operation in the public transport sector in the state for efficiency and effectiveness.

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“To date, Mr. Governor has impacted the transport sub-sector of the economy in more ways than the citizens can imagine. This terminal would be the third to be commissioned by Mr. Governor in the life of this administration. Previously, Mr. Governor had commissioned the Oyingbo Bus Terminal and recently the MMA Mafoluku Bus Terminal. Other terminals at Ifako-Ijaiye, Ojota and Ajah are at different stages of completion but we are optimistic that they would be completed before the end of this year.”

The commissioner said the state is providing bus services into communities that are far away from the main transit corridors to cushion the effects of the restriction on the operations of commercial motorcycles and tricycle in six local government area and nine local council development areas. 

“We are monitoring the activities of the transport unions in the state to ensure that they operate within the ambit of the law.”

On Thursday, two days after the governor commissioned the project, The Guardian visited the spot to have a first hand experience of what was happening at the terminal. It was observed that the terminal has not been opened for use, with the BRT buses picking passengers on the BRT lane.

This is just as major roads around the terminal were boarding bay for many of the commercial buses, thereby obstructing free flow of traffic.

The Guardian however interacted with a few passengers and passersby about the project, who all commended the state government for executing the project, though with one or two reservations.

A trader, Chimezie Owen said the completion of the terminal is good. “If someone was here five years ago and he returns to Yaba now, such person no doubt would observe the remarkable changes. So, it is a good development for the state.”

Owen, who stays in Shomolu is, however, apprehensive that with the new terminal, buses that ply his route might be stopped from heading to Yaba. So he called on government to make adequate alternative of providing buses that would be taking passengers from the inner roads of Shomolu to Yaba.

For Joy Ademola, the completion of the bus terminal has elevated the architecture of Tejuosho Market corridor of Yaba. She added that with the terminal, public transportation has been raised to a higher pedestal, which may make many residents and visitors to Lagos not using public transport in commuting to now do.

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Ademola, however, felt a crisis would brew if the present commercial buses were not provided an alternative spot, as they would be forced to provide one by themselves. This, she said might mean getting scattered across the different adjoining roads to Yaba Bus stop. She noted that with the connivance of some security personnel and traffic officers, sections of the road within the bus-stop corridor would be turned into park, which would make the area prone to slow traffic.

Another trader, Innocent Akpulonu noted that every government policy often swing in favour of some people positively and some others negatively, stating that many traders who were operating within old bus stop corridor have been told to leave. He added that many of them could not rent a place within the new Tejuosho Market because it is expensive. He pleaded with the state government to intervene and support them.

A commercial driver, who simply gave his name as Taju, said there was nothing that they can do when he was asked if government or its representative has engaged them on the way forward with the completion of the terminal which would be put to use any moment from now. According to him, rather than discussion, they had received threats to leave.

Another commercial driver, John Timothy said: “We have not heard anything concrete about government’s plans for us. We do not know whether we would be chased away or accommodated within the terminal. This is because our leaders have not discussed anything with us.”

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