A Mega-city with a teeming population of more than 21 million people, Lagos is arguably one of the fastest growing cities in the world and like most urban areas it is plagued with challenges ranging from crime, affordable housing and public transit.
The transportation sector has repeatedly suffered fatal blows, it has not been able to meet the city’s growing demands.
Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) was initiated as an intervention during the administration of His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu in 2008 to bridge this gap, the system currently conveys an average of 150,000 commuters daily.
It has undergone significant improvements over the years from acquisition of new buses (Yutong), employment of competent staff (some persons insult the drivers and they don’t even bat an eye), expansion of routes etc.
The efforts by the Lagos State Government to implement the transport system is commendable.
Has it helped the metropolis?
With the current rate at which people migrate to Lagos daily, I am afraid not.
Personally, there have been instances where I arrive the bus stop as early as 6:00am and still don’t catch a bus till 10:00am or so.
On some really busy days the number of persons queued at the bus stops exceed 250.
To paint a vivid picture, BRT is a transport system that features a dedicated roadway about 3.5m wide free of other traffic with bus stops strategically positioned to ensure ease of services.
Now that’s out of the way, the long queues sometimes breed quarrel and arguments, mischievous persons feel the necessity to skip the queue, nevertheless, buses take hours to reach the bus stops.
It may seem like poor maintenance is at play as the number of buses that ply the routes have significantly reduced. The squeaking sound heard while commuting in some of them cannot be totally ignored and I recently saw some without functioning air conditioners.
Road users at times make things difficult for the drivers of the buses by invading the lanes, while this can be discarded as an issue, motorcyclists endanger their lives and that of the passengers.
Visit Agric bus stop along Ikorodu road to experience this first-hand.
Truth be told, the number of Lagosians that utilise BRT as a means of transportation is on the increase, the acquisition of more buses may not meet their dire needs.
What is the solution?
Inland waterways and rail transport systems although existent in Lagos, do not yet operate optimally.
In water transport, there have been cases of bad life jackets given to passengers, poorly maintained boats, obstacles in the waterways etc.
Rail transport in Lagos right now can be simply put as risky and inconvenient.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode has shown keen interest in these alternative transport systems, there is ongoing construction of piers for railway lines visible in Marina and other parts of Lagos, he also recently hosted a convention where implementation of waterways was discussed with stakeholders.
There is no doubt that utilisation of rail and waterways transport systems will curb traffic congestion in the city on the long run.
It could take years before Lagos unlocks the full potential of these alternatives but when the city reaches this oasis, will the “big men” drop their cars at home to patronise the system that remains foreign to a large group of people?